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Full text of "Weird tales"

UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME, 
price ONE SHILLING each. 



1. Scottish Jests and Anecdotes, collected by 

Robert Chambers. 

2. English Jests and Anecdotes, gathered from 

various sources. 

3. Irish Jests and Anecdotes, collected from 

various sources. 

4. American Jests and Anecdotes, collected from 

various sources. 

5. English Weird Tales, by Charles Dickens, A. 

Stewart Harrison, Defoe, Edmund Yates, and 
others. 

6. Scottish Weird Tales, by Sir Walter Scott, 

Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, Hugh Miller, Allan 
Cunningham, and others. 

7. Irish Weird Tales, by William Carleton, Samuel 
Lover, Charles Lever, C. Crofton Croker, and 



8. American Weird Tales, by Edgar Allan Poe, 

Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving, W. 
G. Simms, and others. 

9. German Weird Tales, by W. Hauff, E. T. W. 

Hoffman, Lttdwig Tieck, Schiller, Goethe, 
and others. 




others. 



PATERSON'S 

NEW ENGLAND NOVELS. 



Cloth, gilt top, as. each ; ornamental paper cover, 
is. each. 

Contain the following works— 
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE. 

The House of the Seven 

Gables 
The Scarlet Letter 
Mosses from an old Manse 
The New Adam and Eve 
Twice -Told Tales 
Legends of the Province 

House 



The Snow Image 
Our Old Home 
Tanglewood Tales 
The Blithedale Romance 
True Stories from His- 
tory and Biography 
A Wonder Book for Girls 
and Boys 



A. S. HARDY. 

But Yet a Woman 

THEO. WINTHROP. 

Cecil Dreeme I Edwin Brothertoft 

John Brent | Canoe and Saddle 

O. W. HOLMES. 



Autocrat of the Breakfast- 
Table 

Professor at the Break- 
fast-Table 



Poet at the Breakfast- 
Table (2S.) 
Elsie Venner 



WASHINGTON IRVING. 

The Sketch Book | Christmas 



WEIRD TALES 



SCOTTISH 




WILLIAM PATERSON 

LONDON AND EDINBURGH 



Morrison a?id Gibb, Edinburgh, 
Printers to Her Majesty's Stationery Office. 



CONTENTS. 

PAGE 

THE VISION OF CAMPBELL OF IN VERA WE, . 5 

THE TAPESTRIED CHAMBER ; OR, THE LADY 

IN THE SACQUE, 8l 

HIGHLAND SNOWSTORM, . . . . 103 

LEGEND OF THE DROPPING WELL, . . 119 

WANDERING WILLIE'S TALE,. . . .135 

THE HAUNTED SHIPS, l6l 

THE UNKNOWN, 184 

THE RESCUE, 224 

THE WITCH OF LAGGAN, .... 233 

ALLAN MACTAVISH'S FISHING, . . . 244 



3 



THE VISION OF CAMPBELL OF 
INVERAWE. 



By Sir Thomas Dick Lajder, Bart. 

Perhaps you are all acquainted with the history of 
the Black Watch, which was afterwards formed into 
that gallant corps now immortalized by its actions as 
the Forty-Second Highlanders? General Stewart, of 
Garth, in his interesting account of the Highland 
Regiments, tells us that it was originally composed of 
independent companies, which were raised about 
1725 or 1730. These were stationed in small bodies 
in different parts of the country, in order to preserve 
the peace of the Highlands. It was, in some sort, a 
great National Guard, and it was considered so great 
an honour to belong to it, that most of the privates 
were the sons of gentlemen or tenants. Most of them 
generally rode on horseback, and had gillies to carry 
their arms at all times, except when they were on 
parade or on duty. They were called Freiceadan 
Dubh, or the Black Watch, from the dark colour of 
their well-known regimental tartan, in opposition to 
the S eider -D ear gg^ or Red Soldiers, who were so 
named from the colour of their coats. You may pro- 
bably remember the circumstance of their having been 
most unfairly marched to London, under the pretence 
that they were to be reviewed by the King, — of their 
5 s 



6 



Weird Tales. 



having been ordered abroad, — of their refusal to go, 
— of their having been moved, as if by one impulse 
pervading every indignant bosom among them, to 
make^ that most extraordinary and interesting march 
of retreat which they effected to Northampton, — of 
their having been ultimately brought under subjec- 
tion, — and, finally, of their brave conduct in Flanders, 
from which country they returned in October 1745. 

After their return to Great Britain, the Black 
Watch were ordered into Kent, instead of being sent 
into Scotland with the other troops under General 
Hawley, to act against those who had risen for Prince 
Charles. This arrangement probably arose entirely 
from great consideration and delicacy on the part of 
the Government, who, fully aware of the high honour 
of the individuals of the corps, never entertained the 
smallest doubt of their loyalty, but who felt the cruelty 
of exposing men to the dreadful alternative of fight- 
ing against their friends and relatives, many of whom 
were necessarily to be found in the ranks of the 
insurgents. There were, however, three additional 
companies raised in the Highlands, a little time 
before the return of the regiment from abroad. These 
were kept in Scotland, and however distressing to 
their feelings the duty was which they were called 
upon to perform, on the side for which they were 
enlisted, they did that duty most honourably. One 
of these was recruited and commanded by Duncan 
Campbell, Laird of Inverawe. 

After various services in their own country during 
the period that the rest of the corps was abroad for 
the second time, these three companies were ordered 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 7 

to embark, in March 1748, to join the regiment in 
Flanders. But the preliminaries of peace having 
been soon afterwards signed, the order was counter- 
manded, and they were reduced. 

During the time that Campbell of Inverawe's 
company was occupied in the unpleasant duty to 
which I have alluded, he had been on one occasion 
compelled to march into the district of Lorn, and to 
burn and destroy the houses and effects of a few small 
gentlemen, who were of that resolute description that 
they would have sacrificed all they had, and even life 
itself, rather than yield to what they held to be the 
government of an usurper. Having been thus led to 
pursue his route, in a certain direction, for many a 
mile, he happened, on his return, to be detained 
behind his men by some accidental circumstance, and 
having lost his way after nightfall, he wandered about 
alone for several hours, until he became considerably 
oppressed with hunger and fatigue. With the expecta- 
tion of gathering some better knowledge of his way, 
he left the lower grounds, where the darkness of night 
had settled more deeply and decidedly down, and he 
climbed the side of a hill with the hope of benefiting, 
in some degree, by the half twilight which lingers 
longer upon these elevations, continuing to rest upon 
them sometimes for hours after it has altogether 
deserted their lower regions. With the dogged per- 
severance of one who labours on because he has no 
other alternative, he blindly pursued his haphazard 
course in a diagonal line along the abrupt face, always 
rising as he proceeded, until his way became every 
moment more and more difficult. The side of the 



8 



Weird Tales. 



hill became steeper and steeper at every step, until 
he began to be satisfied that he had no chance of 
reaching its brow, except by retracing his steps, in 
order to discover some other means of ascending to 
it. Ta any such alternative as this he could by no 
means make up his mind. He cursed his own folly 
for allowing his company to march on without him. 
He uttered many a wish that he was with them. He 
felt sufficiently convinced that he had acted im- 
prudently in having thus exposed himself alone, in 
the midst of a district' which was yet reeking with the 
vengeance which his duty had compelled him so 
unwillingly to pour out upon it. But his courage way 
indomitable, and his way lay onwards, and onwards 
he without hesitation resolved to go. 

He had not proceeded far, until high cliffs began 
to rear themselves over his head, whilst, from his 
very feet, perpendicular precipices shot down into 
the deep night that prevailed below. The goat or 
deer track that he followed became every moment 
more and more blocked up with stony fragments, 
until at length it offered one continuous series of 
dangerous steps, requiring his utmost care and atten- 
tion to preserve him from a slip or fall that might 
have been fatal. 

Whilst he was thus proceeding, with his whole 
attention occupied in self-preservation, he was 
suddenly challenged in Gaelic by a rough voice in his 
front. 

" Who comes there?" 

" A friend," replied In vera we, in the same language 
in which he was addressed. 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 9 

" I am not sure of that," said the same voice 
hoarsely and bitterly. " Is he alone ? " 

"He is alone," said a voice a little way behind 
Inverawe ; "we are quite safe." 

"Come on then, sir," said the voice in front, "you 
have nothing to fear." 

" Fear ! " cried Inverawe, in a tone which implied 
that any such feeling had ever been a stranger to him ; 
" I fear nothing." 

" I know you to be a brave man, Inverawe ! " said 
the man who now appeared in front of him. " Come 
on then without apprehension. You need not put 
your hand into, the guard of your claymore, for no 
one here will harm you. But what strange chance 
has brought you here ? " 

"The loss of my way," replied Inverawe. "But 
how do you come to know me so well ? " 

"It is no matter how I know you," replied the 
other. " It is sufficient that I do know you, and 
know you to be a brave man, to whom, as such, I am 
prepared to do what kindness I can. What are your 
wants then, and what can I do for you ? " 

"My wants are, simply to find my lost way, and 
•-.then to procure some food, of which I stand much in 
need," replied Inverawe. 

"Be at ease then, for I shall help you to both," 
replied the person with whom he was conversing ; 
" but methinks your last want requires to be first 
attended to, as the most urgent ; so follow me, and 
look sharply to your footing." Then, speaking in a 
louder tone to some individuals, who, though unseen, 
were posted somewhere in the obscurity to the rear of 



IO 



Weird Tales. 



Inverawe, he said, " Look well to your post, lads, I 
shall be with you by and by." And then again 
turning to Inverawe, he added — " Come on, sir ; you 
must climb up this way ; the ascent is steep, and you 
will require to use hands as well as feet. Goats were 
wont to be the only travellers here, and even they 
must have been hardy ones. But troublous times will 
often people the desert cliffs themselves with human 
beings, and scare the very eagle from her aerie, that 
she may yield her lodging to weary man. 

Inverawe now began to clamber after his guide up 
a steep, tortuous, and dangerous ascent, where in 
some places they were compelled to pull up their 
bodies by the strength of their hands and arms. It 
lasted for some time ; and he of the Black Watch, 
albeit well accustomed to such work, was beginning 
to be very weary of it, when at length they landed on 
a tolerably wide natural ledge, where Inverawe per- 
ceived that the cliffs that arose from the inner angle 
of it so overhung their base as to render it self-evident 
that all farther ascent in this direction was cut off by 
them. Rounding a huge fallen mass of rock, which 
lay poised on the very edge of the precipice, they 
came suddenly on a ravine, or rift, in the face of the 
cliff above, on climbing a few paces up which, they 
discovered the low, arched mouth of a cave, whence 
issued a faint gleam of light, and an odour of smoke. 
His guide stooped under the projection of the cliff 
that hung over it, and let himself down through the 
narrow entrance. Inverawe followed his example 
without fear, and found himself in a cavern of an 
irregular form, from ten to twenty feet in diameter. 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 1 1 

This he discovered partly by the light of a fire of peats 
that smouldered near the entrance, and partially filled 
the place with smoke, but more perfectly by a torch 
of bog-fir which his guide immediately lighted. But 
he felt no curiosity about this, in comparison with 
that which he experienced in regard to the figure 
and features of his guide, with which he was in- 
tensely anxious to make himself acquainted. 

He was a tall and remarkably fine looking man, 
considerably below middle age. He was dressed in a 
gray plaid and kilt, betokening disguise, but with the 
full complement of Highland armour about him. His 
hair hung in long black curls around his head. His 
face was very handsome, his nose aquiline, his mouth 
small and well formed, having its upper lip graced by 
a dark and well-trimmed moustache. His eyes, and 
his whole general expression, were extremely be- 
nignant. After scanning his face with great attention, 
Inverawe was satisfied that he never had seen him 
before, and he had ample opportunity of ascertaining 
the reverse, if it had been otherwise, for the man 
stood with the bog-fir torch blazing in his hand, as if 
he wished to give his guest the fullest advantage of it 
in his scrutiny of him, and then, as if guessing the 
conclusion to which that scrutiny had brought him, 
he at last began to speak. 

"Ay," said he calmly, "you are right, Inverawe. 
Your eyes have never beheld me until this moment. 
But I have seen you to my cost. I was looking on 
all the while that you and your men were burning and 
destroying my house, goods, and gear, this blessed 
morning, and / can never forget you." 



12 



Weird Tales. 



" I know you not, that is certain," replied Inver- 
awe ; " and the cruel duty we were on to-day was so 
extensive in its operation, that I cannot even guess 
whom you are." 

"You shall never know it from me, Inverawe," 
replied the other. 

"And why not?" demanded Inverawe. 

"From no fear for myself," replied the stranger; 
"but because I would not add to that remorse, which 
you must feel, from being compelled to execute deeds 
which are as unworthy of you, as I know they are 
contrary to your generous and kindly nature. I have 
suffered from you deeply — deeply indeed have I 
suffered. But I look upon you but as an involuntary 
minister of the vengeance of a cruel Government, and 
perhaps as an agent in the hand of a just God, who 
would punish me for those sins and frailties which are 
inherent in my human nature. I blame not you, and 
I can have no feeling of anger against you, far less of 
revenge. Give me, then, the right hand of fellowship." 

"Willingly, most willingly!" said Inverawe, 
cordially shaking hands with him. " You are a noble, 
high-minded man ; for certainly I can imagine what 
your feelings might have very naturally been against 
me, and I know that I am now in your power." 

"All I ask, Inverawe, is this," continued the 
stranger ; " that as I have been, and will continue to 
be, honourable towards you, you will be the same to 
me ; and in asking that, I know that I am asking 
what is sure to be granted. The confidence in your 
honour which I have shown by bringing you here, 
will not be betrayed." 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 1 3 

"Never!" said Inverawe, with energy. " Never 
while I have life ! " 

"I know I can rely upon you," said the stranger ; 
"and now let me hasten to give you such refreshment 
as I possess. Sit down, I pray you, as near to the 
ground as possible ; you will find that the smoke will 
annoy you less." 

Inverawe did as his host had recommended, and, 
seating himself on some heather which lay on the 
floor of the place, the stranger opened a wicker 
pannier that stood in a low recess, and speedily pro- 
duced from it various articles of food, of no mean 
description, together with a bottle of French wine, 
and, spreading the viands before his guest, he seated 
himself by him, and they ate and drank together. 
They had little conversation ; and the stranger no 
sooner saw that Inverawe's hunger was satisfied, than 
he arose, and proposed that he should now guide him 
on his journey. Creeping from the hole, therefore, 
they descended the crags together, with all that care 
which the steepness of the declivity rendered neces- 
sary, until they came to the spot where they had first 
encountered each other, and then the stranger began 
to guide Inverawe onwards in the same direction he 
had been formerly pursuing. 

They had not proceeded far, until they were 
challenged by voices among the rocks, showing that 
his host's place of retreat was protected by sentinels 
in all quarters. His guide answered the challenge, 
and they then went on without molestation. After 
about an hour's walk over very rugged ground, during 
which they wound over the mountain, and threaded 



14 



Weird Tales. 



their way through various bogs and woods, that 
completely bewildered Inverawe, his guide suddenly 
brought him out upon a road which he well knew, 
and then shaking hands with him, and bidding him 
farewell, he dived again into the wood, and dis- 
appeared. 

Inverawe rejoined his company at their night's 
quarters. They had spent an anxious time regarding 
him, during his absence, and they were clamorous in 
their inquiries as to what had become of him. He 
gave them an account of the circumstance of his 
losing his way ; but he told them not a syllable of his 
adventure with the stranger, resolving that it should 
be for ever buried in his own bosom. There, how- 
ever, it produced many a thought ; and often did he 
earnestly hope, that chance might again bring him 
into contact with the man who had taken so noble a 
revenge of him — to whom he felt as an honest 
bankrupt might do towards his generous and for- 
giving creditor ; and whose person and features he 
had engraven so deeply on his recollection, to be 
embalmed there amidst the warmest and kindliest 
affections of his heart. 

It was soon after the disbanding of his company, 
that Campbell of Inverawe returned, to his own 
romantic territory, and to his ancient castle, standing 
in the midst of beautiful natural lawns, surrounded 
by wooded banks and knolls, lying at the north- 
western base of the mighty Ben-Cruachan. Speaking 
in a general way, the country around was thickly 
covered with oak and birch woods, giving double 
value, both in point of beauty and utility, to the rich, 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 15 

glady pastures, which were seen to spread their 
verdant surface to the sun, along the course of the 
river Awe. Behind the gray towers of the building, 
broken rocks arose here and there, in bare masses, in 
the direction of the mountain ; whilst the blue expanse 
of Loch Etive stretched away from the eye towards 
the north-east, as well as to the west. To the south- 
west, the groves, and grassy slopes, were abruptly 
broken off by the perpendicular crags of the romantic 
ravine through which the river makes its way, to pour 
itself across the open haughs of Bunawe, and into 
Loch Etive. To sketch out the remainder of the 
neighbourhood, so that you may be fully aware of the 
nature of the country, which was the scene, where 
one of the most important circumstances of my tale 
took place, I may add, that about a mile above the 
ravine, the river has its origin from a long narrow 
arm of Loch Awe, which presents one of the most 
romantic ranges of scenery in Scotland. The lake in 
the bottom is there everywhere about eighty or an 
hundred yards wide only ; and whilst a bare, rocky 
mountain front, furrowed by many a misty cataract, 
rises sheer up out of the water on its western side, 
the steep, lofty, and rugged face of Cruachan shuts it 
in on the eastern side, forming the grand and wild 
pass of Brandera. Here the mountain exhibits every 
variety of picturesque form, — of prominent crag, and 
half-concealed hollow, among which the gray mists 
are continually playing and producing magical effects; 
together with deep torrent beds, and innumerable 
waterfalls, thundering downwards unseen, save in 
glimpses, amid the thick copse which, generation 



i6 



Weird Tales, 



after generation, has sprung from the stools of those 
giant oaks, which were once permitted to rear their 
spreading heads, and to throw their bold arms freely 
abroad, athwart the rocky steeps that rear themselves 
so high up above, as to be softened by distance and 
air, till they almost melt from human vision. 

Having thus put you in possession of the scenery, 
I shall now proceed to tell you, that Campbell of 
Inverawe, after his long absence from home on 
military duty, felt all the luxury of enjoyment which 
these his own quiet scenes could bestow. And his 
mind expanding to all his old friendships, he largely 
exercised all the hospitalities of life. Frequently did 
he fill the hall of his fathers with gay and merry 
feasters, and his own hilarious disposition always 
made him the very soul of the mirth that prevailed 
among them. 

One one occasion, it happened that he had congre- 
gated a large party together. The wine circulated 
freely. The fire bickered on the hearth, and threw a 
cheerful blaze over the walls of the hall, reddening 
the very roof, and gleaming on the warlike weapons 
that hung around. The wine was good, the jests 
were merry, and the conversation sparkling, so that 
the guests were as loath to depart as their kind host 
was unwilling to let them go. His lady had retired 
to her chamber, but still they sat on, making the old 
building ring again with their jocund laughter. But 
all things must have an end. The parting cup, to 
their host's roof-tree, was proposed by a certain young 
man called George Campbell, and it was filled to the 
brim. But as all were on their legs to drain it, with 



Visio?i of Campbell of Inverawe. 17 

heart and good will, to the bottom, a rattling peal of 
thunder rolled directly over their heads. There was 
not a man of them that did not feel that the omen was 
appalling. Some hardy ones tried to laugh it off, as 
a salvo from heaven in homologation of their good 
wishes to the house of Inverawe. But the pleasantry 
went ill down with the rest. Servants were called 
for, horses were ordered, and out poured their 
owners to mount them, — when they were all surprised 
to see the heavens quite serene and tranquil. But not 
a word of remark was ventured by any one on this so 
very strange a circumstance. Their hospitable enter- 
tainer saw every man of them take his stirrup-cup ; 
and they galloped away, one after the other. 

After they were all gone, Inverawe paced about in 
the courtyard for some time, in sombre thought which 
stole involuntarily upon him. He then sought his 
way up-stairs, and, lifting an oaken chair towards the 
great hearth, where the billets had by this time begun 
to burn red and without flame, he sat down in it for 
a while, listlessly to ponder over the events of the 
evening. The weary servants had gladly stolen away 
to bed, and the whole castle was soon as silent as the 
grave. Not a sound was to be heard within the walls, 
but the dull, drowsy buzzing of a large fly, which the 
flickering light of a solitary lamp, left on the table, 
had prevented from retiring to some cranny of repose. 
The master of the mansion smiled for a moment, as 
the whimsical idea crossed him, that this tiny insect 
was perhaps the only thing of life which, at that 
time, kept watch with him within the castle. 

Inverawe's thoughts reverted to the last toast which 
s F 



i8 



Weird Tales. 



had been given by his young friend Campbell, and the 
strange circumstances by which it had been accom- 
panied. He had an only son, called Donald, a 
promising young man, who was the prop of his house, 
and to whose future career in life he looked forward 
with all a father's anxiety. He had been long 
accustomed to weave a silken tissue of anticipated 
happiness, and honours, for the young man, and to 
view him, in his mind's eye, as the father of many 
generations to come. The youth was at that time 
from home ; and this was the very first moment of his 
life that the notion of there being any chance of his 
being one day left childless, had ever occurred to him. 
He tried to shake off these gloomy presentiments, 
but still they returned, and clung to him, with a force 
and pertinacity that no reason could conquer. He 
would fain have risen to go to his chamber, but he 
felt as if some powerful, though unseen hand, had 
held him down to his chair ; and he continued to sit 
on, absorbed in contemplative musings on these 
gloomy and painful dreams, till the billets on the 
hearth had consumed themselves to their red embers. 

Suddenly all such thoughts were put to flight from 
his mind. He distinctly heard the great outer door 
of the castle creak upon its hinges. He remembered, 
that although he had not locked it, he had shut it 
behind him when he came in. It now banged against 
its doorway, and sent a hollow sound echoing up the 
long turnpike stair. Faint, quick, and stealthy foot- 
steps were then heard ascending. One or two other 
doors were moved in succession. The footsteps 
approached with cautious expedition. And as Inver- 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 1 9 

awe listened with breathless attention, the door of the 
hall was thrust open, a human countenance appeared 
for an instant in the dusky aperture, and then a man, 
with a naked dirk in his hand, his clothes dripping 
wet, his long hair hanging streaming over his 
shoulders and half-veiling his glaring eyes and pale 
and haggard countenance, rushed in, and made 
straight up to him. 

Inverawe started to his feet, drew his dirk, and 
prepared to defend himself from this unlooked-for 
attempt at assassination. But ere he had well plucked 
it forth from its sheath, the intruder assumed the 
attitude of a suppliant. 

"For mercy's sake pardon my unceremonious 
entrance, Inverawe ! " said the stranger, in a hollow, 
husky, and exhausted voice. " And be not alarmed, 
for I come with no hostile intention against you or 
yours. I am an unfortunate wretch, who, in a sudden 
quarrel, have shed the blood of a fellow-creature. 
He was a man of Lorn. I have been hotly pursued 
by his friends, and though I have thrown those who 
are after me considerably out, during the long chase 
they have kept up, yet they are still pressing like 
blood - hounds on my track. To baffle them, if 
possible, I threw myself into the river, and swam 
across it ; and I now claim that protection, and that 
hospitality, which no one ever failed to find within 
the house of Inverawe. " 

"By Cruachan!" cried Inverawe, sheathing his 
dirk, and slapping it smartly with the open palm of 
his hand. " By Cruachan, I swear that you shall 
have both 1 " 



20 



Weird Tales. 



Now, I must tell you, that this was considered as 
the most solemn pledge that a Campbell of Inverawe 
could give. Their war-cry was, " Coar-a- Cruachan" 
thatds, " Help from Cruachan" And this expression 
had a double meaning, inasmuch as the word Gruachan 
had reference both to the mountain of that name, and 
to the hip where the dirk hung. To swear by 
Cruachan, therefore, and to strengthen the oath by 
slapping the dirk with the open palm, was to utter an 
oath, which must, under all circumstances, be for ever 
held inviolable. 

" But tell me," said Inverawe, "how happened 
this unlucky affair ? " 

" We were all met to make merry at a wedding," 
replied the stranger, ' ' when, as I was dancing with 

But hold ! — I hear voices ! They approach 

the castle ! I am lost if you do not hide me imme- 
diately. " 

" This way," said Inverawe, leading him to a 
certain obscure part of the hall. " Aid me to lift this 
trap. Now, down with ye and crouch there. They 
come. " 

Inverawe had barely time to drop the trap-door into 
its place, to resume his seat at the fire, and to affect 
to be in a deep sleep, when the voices and the sound 
of human footsteps were heard ascending the stairs. 
Three men entered the hall in reeking haste — clay- 
mores in hand. They rushed towards the fire-place, 
where he was sitting. Inverawe started up as if just 
awaked by the noise they made, and drew his dirk, as 
if to defend himself from their meditated attack. 

"Ha!" cried he, with well - feigned surprise. 



Vision of 'Campbell of Inverawe. 21 



* 1 Assassins ! Then must I sell my life as dearly as 
I can." 

" Not assassins ! " cried they. " We are not 
assassins, Inverawe. We crave your pardon for this 
apparently rude intrusion, but we are in pursuit of an 
assassin. We come to look for a man who has 
murdered another. Have we your permission to 
search for him ? " 

" Certainly," said Inverawe, "wherever you 
please." 

" He cannot be here," said one of the men. 11 1 
told you that he could not be here. Don't you see 
plainly that he could not have come in here without 
awaking Inverawe. We lose time here. We had 
better on after our friends." 

" Depend on't he has run up Loch Etive side," 
said another of them. 

"What are all these wet footsteps on the floor?" 
said the first of them that spoke. " He might have 
been here without Inverawe's knowledge." 

" Don't you see that Inverawe has had a feast, and 
that wine, and water, and whisky too, have been 
flowing in gallons in all directions ? " said the second 
man. " See, there is a large pool of lost liquor. 
I verily believe that some of these footsteps are my 
own, made this moment, by walking accidentally 
through it. I tell you he never could have come 
here." 

" It is true that I have had a feast," said Inverawe 
carelessly, ' 'as you may see from the wrecks of it 
that still remain on the table." 

" I told you so," said the second man. " We only 



22 



Weird Tales. 



lose time here. If you had only been guided by my 
counsel, we might have been hard at his heels by this 
time, as well as the rest." 

" Haste, then, let us go ! " said the first man. 

" Away! away! cried his companions^ and, without 
waiting for further parley, they rushed out of the hall, 
and Inverawe heard, with some satisfaction, their foot- 
steps hurrying down-stairs, and the shouts which they 
yelled forth after their companions growing fainter 
and fainter, until they were altogether lost in the 
direction of Loch Etive. 

Inverawe was no sooner certain that they were 
fairly gone, without all risk of returning, than he 
proceeded, in the first place, to secure the outer door 
of the castle, and then returning to the hall, he went 
to the trap-door, and calling softly to the man con- 
cealed below, he desired him to aid him in raising it, 
by applying his strength to force it upwards, and thus 
their united strength enabled them speedily to open it, 
and to lift it up. 

" Come forth now, unfortunate man,'* said Inver- 
awe ; "your pursuers are gone." 

" I come," said the stranger, in his husky, hoarse 
voice, and as he raised himself from the trap-door, his 
haggard countenance, and his blood-shot eyes, that 
glared with the horror of his situation, half seen as 
they were through his long moist locks, chilled Inver- 
awe's very heart as he looked upon him. 

"Now, sir," said Inverawe, "you are safe for the 
present, your pursuers have passed on." 

" Thanks ! thanks ! " replied the man ; "I know 
not how sufficiently to thank you." 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 23 

" Ay — all is so far well with you," said Inverawe ; 
" but concealment for you here is impossible. You 
must remove into a place of more certain safety, and 
no time is to be lost. At present you may remove 
without observation or suspicion ; but no one can say 
how soon the search for you hereabouts may be 
renewed. Here," continued he, setting before him 
some of the remains of the feast, which the tired 
servants had not removed from the sideboard ; take 
what refreshment circumstances may allow, whilst I 
go for a basket, in which to carry food enough to last 
you during to-morrow. We must go to Ben Cruachan, 
with as much secrecy and expedition as we can." 

The stranger, thus left for a few minutes by himself, 
hastily devoured some of the viands, of which he had 
so much need, and having swallowed a full cup of 
wine, he was rejoined by Inverawe with a basket, into 
which he hastily^packed some provisions, and, without 
a moment's delay, they quietly and stealthily quitted 
the hall and the castle, and the moment they found 
themselves in the open air, Inverawe led the way 
diagonally up the slope, on the western side of Ben 
Cruachan. 

Their way was long, and their path rough, and they 
moved on through woods, and over rocks, without 
uttering a word. Many a half-expressed exclamation, 
indeed, burst involuntarily from the stranger, betray- 
ing a mind ill at ease with itself, and many a start did 
he give, as if he apprehended surprise from some 
lurking pursuer ; and Inverawe shuddered to think, 
that the haggard appearance of the man, and these 
his guilty-like apprehensions, were more in accordance 



24 



Weird Tales. 



with the accusation of murder, or unfair slaughter, 
which seemed to have been made against him, by the 
expressions of some of those who had come into the 
hall in search of him, than with the chance-medley 
killing of a man in an affrayr which was the com- 
plexion he had himself wished to put on the matter. 
Be this as it might, however, his most solemn pledge 
had been given for his security, and accordingly he 
determined honourably to fulfil it, at all hazards to 
himself. His reflections, as he went with this man, 
were of anything but a pleasing nature. 

After a long and painful walk, or rather race, for 
their pace had been more like that than walking, 
Inverawe began to climb up the abrupt face of 
Cruachan, till he came to that part of it which hangs 
over the northern entrance of the Pass of Brandera, 
where the river Awe breaks away from the end of the 
narrow branch of the lake ; and there, after some 
scrambling, he led the stranger high up the face of 
the mountain, to a cave that yawned in the perpen- 
dicular cliff. The concealment here was perfect, for 
its mouth was masked in front by a cairn of large 
stones, which might have been accidentally accumu- 
lated by falling during successive ages from the rocks 
above, or perhaps artificially piled up there in 
memory of some person or event long since forgotten. 
It was, moreover, surrounded by trees of all sorts of 
growth ; indeed, the universal wooding which pre- 
vailed over the surrounding features of nature, of 
itself rendered any object on the ground of the 
mountain - side difficult to be discovered by any 
creature that did not, like an eagle, mount into the 



Vision of Campbell of Liverawe. 25 



sky. In addition to this, the great elevation of the 
position added to the security of the place, and the 
ravine-seamed front of the perpendicular mountain 
of rock that guarded the western side of the pass, 
immediately opposite to the face of Cruachan, pre- 
cluded all chance of observation from that quarter. 

M This is not exactly the place where Campbell ot 
Inverawe would wish to exercise his hospitality to 
any one who deigns to ask for his protection," said 
the Laird, whilst he was engaged in striking a light ; 
"but in your circumstances it is the best retreat in 
which I can extend it towards you. Here is a lamp ; 
and I will leave this tinder-box, and this flask of oil 
with you. The cave is dry enough, and there is 
abundance of heather to be had around you. Use 
your lamp only when you may find it absolutely 
necessary so to do ; for its light might betray you ; 
and take care to show yourself as little as possible 
during the daylight of to-morrow. I have promised 
you protection by Cruachan, and by Cruachan you 
shall have it. You must be contented with this my 
assurance for the present, for your safety demands 
that I shall not see you again, until I can do so 
without observation, under the veil of to-morrow- 
night's darkness. Till then, you must e'en do with 
such provisions as this basket contains, and you may 
reckon on my bringing a fresh supply with me when 
I return. Farewell, for I must hurry back, so as to 
escape discovery." 

"Thanks ! thanks! kind Inverawe!" said the man, 
in a state of extreme agitation and excitement, — " a 
thousand thanks ! But, must you — must you leave 



26 



Weird Tales, 



me thus alone? Alone, for a whole night, on this 
wild mountain - side, with that yawning hole for my 
place of rest, and with nothing but the roar of these 
eternal cataracts, mingled witji the wild howl of the 
wind through the pass to lull me to repose ! That 
cairn, too ! — may not that be a cairn which marks the 
spot where — where — where some murder has been 
done ? Can you assure me that no ghosts ever haunt 
this wild place ? " 

" The soul that is free from all consciousness of 
guilt may hold patient, solitary, and fearless converse 
with ghost or goblin, even on such a wild mountain- 
side as this," said Inverawe, somewhat impatiently. 
" But surely you cannot expect that my hospitality to 
you should require my sharing this mountain conceal- 
ment with you ? If you do, I must tell you, what 
common prudence ought to teach you, that if I were 
disposed to do so, nothing be could more unwise, as 
nothing could more certainly lead to your detection. 
My absence from home would create so much surprise 
and anxiety, that the whole country would turn out 
to seek for me, and their search for me could not fail 
to produce your discovery. Even now, I may be 
risking it by thus delaying to return." 

"True, true, Inverawe!" said the stranger, in a 
desponding tone, and apparently making a strong 
effort to command his feelings. " There is too much 
truth in what you say. I must steel myself up to this 
night. My safety, as you say, demands it. Yet 'tis 
a terrible trial ! Would that the dawn were come ! 
Is it far from day ? " 

" I hope it is, indeed," replied Inverawe, " else 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 27 

might my absence and all be discovered. It cannot, 
as yet, as I suppose, be much after midnight ; but 
even that is late enough for me. I must borrow the 
swiftness of the roebuck to carry me back. So again 
I say farewell till to-morrow night. " 

Inverawe tarried not for an answer, but, darting off 
through the wood, he rapidly descended among the 
rocks, and then bounded over all the obstacles in his 
way, with a swiftness almost rivalling that of the 
animal he had alluded to ; and so he reached his own 
door, in a space of time so short, as to be almost 
incredible. The fire in the hall had now sunk into 
white ashes. The lamp, which he had left burning, 
was now flickering in its last expiring efforts. He 
swallowed a single draught of wine to restore his ex- 
hausted strength, and then he stole to his chamber, and 
crept into bed, happy in the conviction that his lady, 
who was in a deep sleep, had never discovered that he 
had been absent. 

The sleep that immediately fell upon Inverawe 
himself, was that of the most perfect unconsciousness 
of existence. He knew not, of course, how long it 
had lasted, nor was he in the least degree sensible of 
the cause or manner of its interruption. But he did 
awake, somehow or other ; and then it was that he 
discovered, to his great wonder and astonishment, 
that the chamber which, on going to bed, he had left 
as dark as the most impenetrable night could make 
it, was now illuminated with a lambent light, of a 
bluish cast, which shone through the very curtains of 
his bed. A certain feeling of awe crept chillingly 
over him ; for he was at once convinced that the light 



28 



Weird Tales, 



was something very different from the dawn of morn- 
ing. It became gradually more and more intense, 
till, through the thick drapery that surrounded him, 
he distinctly beheld the shadow of a human figure 
approaching his bed. He was a brave man ; but he 
felt that every nerve and muscle of his frame was 
paralyzed, he knew not how. He watched the slow 
advance of the figure with motionless awe. The 
shadowy arm was extended, and the curtain was 
slowly and silently raised. The bluish light that so 
miraculously pervaded the chamber, then suddenly 
arose to a degree of splendour that was dazzling to 
his sight, and clearly defined the appalling object 
that now presented itself to his eyes. The face and 
figure were those of the very man who had formerly 
entertained him in the hole in the cliff on the moun- 
tain-side, in Lorn. He was wrapped in the same 
gray plaid, too. But those handsome features, which 
had made so deep an impression on the recollection 
of Inverawe, were now pale and fixed, as if all the 
pulses of life had ceased ; and the raven locks, which 
hung curling around them, and the moustaches which 
once gave so much expression to his upper lip, now 
only served to increase the ghastliness of the hue of 
death that overspread his countenance, as well as 
that of the glaze of those immoveable eyes, which had 
then exhibited so much generous intelligence. Inver- 
awe lay petrified, his expanded orbs devouring the 
spectacle before them. With noiseless action, the 
figure dropped one corner of the shadowy plaid in 
which it was enveloped, and displayed a gaping 
wound in its bosom, which appeared to pour out 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 29 

rivers of blood. Its lips moved not ; yet it spoke — 
slowly, and in a hollow and sepulchral tone, — 

" Inverawe ! — blood must flow for blood ! Shield 
not the murderer ! " 

Slowly did the spectre drop the curtain ; and its 
shadow, seen through it, gradually faded away in the 
waning light, ere Inverawe could well gather together 
his routed faculties to his aid. He rubbed his eyes, 
started up in bed, leaned on his pillow, and brushed 
the curtain hastily aside. All was again dark and 
silent. Again he rubbed his eyes, and looked ; but 
again he looked into impenetrable night. 

"It was a dream," thotcght, rather than said, 
Inverawe ; "a horrible dream — but nevertheless it 
was a dream, curious in its coincidences, but not 
unnatural. Nay, it was most natural, that the 
strangest adventure of my past life should be re- 
called by the yet stranger occurrences of this night, 
and that both should thus link themselves confusedly 
and irrationally together during sleep. Pshaw ! It is 
absurd for a rational man to think of this illusion 
more. I'll to sleep again." 

But sleep is one of those blessed conditions of 
human nature which cannot be controlled or com- 
manded by the mere will. On the contrary, the very 
resolution to command it, is almost certain to put it 
to flight. The vision, or whatever else it might have 
been, haunted his imagination, and kept his thoughts 
so busily occupied, that he could not sleep. When 
his lady awaked in the morning, she found him lying 
fevered, restless, and unrefreshed. Her inquiries were 
anxious and affectionate ; but, by carelessly attribut- 



3© Weird Tales, 

ing his indisposition to the prolonged revelry of the 
previous evening, he at last succeeded in ridding him- 
self of further question, and springing from his couch, 
he tried to banish all thought of the unpleasant 
dilemma into which he had been brought, by occupy- 
ing himself actively in the business of the day. 

He was so far successful for a time ; but as night 
approached, his uncomfortable reflections and anti- 
cipations began again to crowd into his mind. He 
must fulfil his promise of visiting his guest of the cave, 
a guest whom he now could not help looking upon 
with horror as a foul murderer ; and yet, if he dis- 
believed the reality of the previous night's visitation, 
there was no reason that he should so regard him 
more now, than he had done before. The difficulty 
of contriving the means of managing his visit, so that 
it should escape observation or suspicion on the part 
of his lady, or his domestics, was very consider- 
able. His lady was that evening more than ordinarily 
solicitous about him, from the conviction that pressed 
upon her that he had had little or no sleep the 
previous night, and remarking his jaded appearance, 
she eagerly urged him to retire to bed at an early 
hour. 

"My dearest," said he affectionately, "I shall: 
but before I can do so, I have some otter-traps to set. 
Perhaps I had better go and finish that business now, 
while there is yet some twilight. Go you to your 
chamber, and retire to rest. I shall sleep all the 
sounder by and by, after breathing the fresh air of 
this balmy evening for an hour or so." 

The lady yielded to his persuasion, and she had no 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 3 1 

sooner left him, than he took an opportunity of filling 
his basket with such provisions as he could appro- 
priate for the stranger with the least possible chance 
of detection ; and putting a few of his otter-traps over 
all, by way of a blind, he sallied forth in the direc- 
tion of the river. There he first most conscientiously 
made good his word, by planting his traps, and then, 
as it was by that time dark, he turned his steps up the 
side of Ben Cruachan, and made the best of his way 
towards the cliffs where the cave was situated. As 
he drew near to its mouth, he was in some degree 
alarmed by observing a light proceeding from it. 
He approached it with caution, and, on entering it, 
he beheld the stranger sitting in the farthest corner of 
it on the bed of heather, with his figure drawn up 
and compressed together, and his features painfully 
distorted, whilst his eyes were intently fixed on 
vacancy. For a moment Inverawe doubted whether 
some fit had not seized upon him ; but he started 
at the noise made by the entrance of his protector, 
and sprang up to meet him. 

"Oh, Inverawe," said he, "what a relief it is to 
behold you ! Oh, what a wretched weary time I have 
passed since you left me ! n 

" I have brought you something to comfort you, " 
said Inverawe, so shocked with his haggard appear- 
ance and conscience-worn countenance, as almost to 
recoil from him. "You know that I could not come 
sooner. You seem to be exhausted with watching. 
You had better take some of this wine." 

" Oh, yes, yes, give me wine — a large cup of 
wine ! " cried the stranger, wildly seizing the vessel 



3- 



Weird Tales. 



which Inverawe had filled, and swallowing its con- 
tents with avidity. " Oh, such a time as I have 
spent ! " 

* 4 This place is quite secure," said Inverawe. 
"You have no cause for such anxiety, if you will 
only be prudent. But why do you keep this light 
burning ? Did I not tell you it was most dangerous 
to do so. Some wandering or belated shepherd or 
huntsman might be guided hither by it, and if your 
retreat should be once discovered, your certain 
destruction must follow." 

" I could not remain in darkness," replied the 
stranger, with a cold shudder; "it was agonizing to 
do so ! Horrid shapes continually haunted me, — 
horrid, horrid shapes? Even the shutting of my 
eyes could not exclude them. Oh, such a night as 
last ! Never have I before endured anything so 
horrible*" 

" You must take your own way, then," said Inver- 
awe, as he spread out the contents of the basket before 
him. "I am sorry that I can do nothing better for 
you, but this is the best fare I could provide for you, 
without exciting suspicion in my own house. Stay — 
here is a blanket, to help to make your bed somewhat 
more comfortable. And now, I must hurry away. 
Yet, before I go, let me once more caution you 
about the light. Perhaps I had better make all 
secure, by taking the lamp with me." 

"Oh no ! no ! no ! no ! " cried the stranger, his 
eyes glaring like those of a maniac, while he rushed 
towards the lamp and seized it up, and clasped it 
within his arms. "No, nothing shall rend it from 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 33 

me ! I will sacrifice my life to preserve it. What ! 
would you leave me to another long, long, and 
dreadful night ? Would you leave me to utter 
darkness and despair ? " 

" Leave you I must," replied Inverawe ; " and if 
you will keep the lamp, you must do so at your own 
risk. But your thoughts must be dreadful thoughts 
indeed, so to disturb you. If conscious guilt be the 
cause of them, I can only advise you to confess your- 
self humbly to your Creator, and to pray for his 
forgiveness." 

Without waiting for a reply, Inverawe left the cave, 
and made the best of his way home. On reaching his 
apartment, he found his lady awake. 

"You have been a long time absent, Inverawe," 
said she. anxiously. 

" I have, my love," replied he carelessly; "the 
delicious air of this night induced me to stay out 
longer than I had intended ; but I hope I shall sleep 
all the better for it." 

Exhausted as he was by fatigue of body and mind, 
as well as worn out by want of rest, Inverawe did fall 
asleep immediately, and his sleep was sound and deep. 
For aught he knew, it might have lasted for some 
hours, when again, as on the previous night, he was 
awaked, he could not tell how. The curtains of his 
bed were drawn close, but the same uncouth blue 
light which pervaded the apartment on the former 
night, now again rendered them quite transparent. 
To convince himself that he was awake, Inverawe 
looked round upon his wife. Even at this early 
stage, the light was sufficiently bright to enable him 
s C 



34 



Weird Tales. 



distinctly to see his lady's features as her head lay in 
calm repose on the pillow beside him. He turned 
again towards the side of the bed, and his eyes were 
dazzled by the sudden increase of light, produced by 
the curtain being raised, as before, by the extended 
hand of the spectre. The same well-remembered 
features were there, pale, fixed, and corpse-like ; but 
the expression of the brow, and bloodless lips, was 
more stern than it was on the previous night. Again 
the spectre dropped the fold of the filmy plaid that 
covered the bosom, and displayed the yawning gash, 
which continued to pour out rivers of blood. The 
spectacle was horrible, and Inverawe's very arteries 
were frozen up. Again it spoke in a deep, hollow 
tone, whilst its lips moved not. 

" Inverawe ! My first visit has been fruitless ! — 
Once more I come to warn you that blood must flow 
for blood. No longer shield the murderer ! Force me 
not to appear again, when all warning will be vain ! " 

Inverawe made an effort to question it. His 
parched mouth, and dried and stiffened tongue, 
refused to do their office. The curtain fell, and the 
light in the room, as well as the shadow of the figure, 
began to wane away. He struggled to spring out of 
bed, but his nerves and muscles refused to obey his 
will, until it was gone, and all was again darkness. 
The moment that his powers returned to him, he 
dashed back the curtain, threw himself from the bed, 
and searched through the room, with outstretched 
arms ; yet, bold and desperate as he was, he almost 
feared that they might embrace the cold and bloody 
figure which he had beheld. His search, however, 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 35 

was vain, and, utterly confused and confounded, he 
returned to bed with his very heart as cold as ice. 
Fortunately, his lady had lain perfectly undisturbed, 
and amidst his own horror, and amidst all his own 
agonizing agitation of thought, he felt thankful that 
she had escaped sharing in the terrors to which he 
had been subjected. As on the former night, he 
tried to persuade himself that all that had passed was 
nothing more than a dream ; but all the reasoning 
powers* he possessed were ineffectual in removing 
from his mind the conviction that now laid hold of it, 
that it really was a spirit that had appeared to him. 
Sleep was banished from his eyelids for the remainder 
of the night ; and never before had he so anxiously 
longed for daybreak. It came at last ; and soon 
afterwards his lady awaked. 

" Inverawe," said she, tenderly and anxiously 
addressing him, "you are ill — very ill. What, in 
the name of all goodness, is the matter with you? 
Your worn-out looks tell me that something terrible 
has occurred to you. Your late excursion of last 
night has something mysterious about it. You were 
not wont thus to have concealment from me — from 
me your affectionate wife ! What is it that preys 
upon your mind? — I must know it." 

" Promise me, upon the honour of Inverawe's 
wife," said he, now seeing that concealment from 
her was no longer practicable; "promise me on 
that honour which is pure and unsullied as the snow, 
that you will not divulge what I have to tell you, and 
your curiosity shall be satisfied." 

With a look of intense and apprehensive interest, 



36 Weird Tales. 



the lady promised what he desired, and then Inver- 
awe communicated to her every circumstance that 
had occurred to him. She was struck dumb and 
petrified by the narration ; but she had no sooner 
gathered sufficient nerve to speak, than she earnestly 
entreated him to have nothing to do in concealing the 
guilty stranger. 

44 Let not this awful warning, now given you for 
the second time, be neglected," said she. " Send for 
the officers of justice without delay, and give up the 
murderer to be tried by the offended laws of his 
country. You know not what curse may fall upon 
you, for thus trying to arrest Heaven's judgment on 
the guilty man. Oh, Inverawe, it is dreadful to 
think of it ! " 

"All this earnestness on your- part, my love, is 
natural," said Inverawe calmly. <f But think of the 
solemn oath I have sworn ; — you would not have 
Inverawe, — you would not have your husband, — 
break a pledge so solemnly given ? Whatever may 
befall me here, I cannot so dishonour myself. Be- 
sides," added he, " whilst, on the one hand, I know 
that he to whom I am so pledged is like myself, a 
man of flesh and blood, who, for anything I know to 
the contrary, may, after all, be really less guilty than 
unfortunate ; I cannot even yet say with certainty, 
that I have not been the sport of dreams, naturally 
enough arising out of the strange circumstances to 
which I have been exposed. But were it otherwise, 
and that, contrary to all our accustomed rational 
belief, I have indeed been visited by a spirit, what 
proof have I that it is a spirit of health ? What proof 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 37 

have I that it may not be a spirit wickedly com- 
missioned by the Father of lies to take this form, in 
order to seduce me into that breach of my pledge, 
which would for ever blacken the high name of 
Campbell of Inverawe, and doom myself to ceaseless 
remorse during the rest of my days ? No, no, lady ! 
— I must keep my solemn vow, whatever may befall 
me." 

The .lady was silenced by these words from her 
husband, but her anxiety was not thereby allayed. It 
increased as night approached ; and especially when 
Inverawe told her that he must again visit the man in 
the cave. During that day various rumours had 
reached him of people being afoot in search of a 
murderer, who was supposed to have found a place 
of concealment somewhere in that neighbourhood ; 
and it was with some difficulty that he could suppress 
a hope that unconsciously arose within him, that he 
might be relieved from his pledge, and from his 
present most distressing and embarrassing position, 
by the accidental capture of him for whom they were 
searching. The duty of visiting the wretched man 
had now become oppressively painful to Inverawe, — 
and the painfulness of it was not decreased by the 
additional risk which he now ran of being detected. 
But Inverawe was not a man to abandon any duty for 
any such reasons. Having again privately made up 
his basket of provisions, therefore, and put his otter- 
traps over its contents, as formerly, he left the castle 
as twilight came on, and making his circuit by the 
riverside with yet more care and caution than before, 
he climbed along the side of Cruachan, and in due 



33 



Weird Tales. 



course of time reached the mouth of the cave. The 
light was burning as before, and on entering the 
place, its inmate was sitting with a countenance and 
expression, if possible more haggard and terrific than 
he had exhibited on the previous night. 

" Welcome ! — welcome ! " cried he, starting wildly 
up, and speaking in a frantic tone, as he rushed for- 
ward to seize Inverawe's cold hand in both of his, 
that felt like heated iron, — " welcome, my guardian 
angel ! All other good angels have fled from me 
now ! And the bad ! — oh ! — but you will not leave 
me to-night? Oh, say that you will not leave me 
to-night ! " 

" I grieve to say that, for your own sake, I cannot 
gratify you," replied Inverawe, withdrawing his hand 
involuntarily from the contamination of his touch, 
and shrinking back with horror from the glare of his 
frenzied and bloodshot eyes, though with a heart 
almost moved to pity for the wretch before him, 
whose very manhood seemed to have abandoned him. 
"It is vain to ask me to stay with you, as I have 
already frequently explained to you ; but much more 
so now, that I have learned that there are men out 
searching for you in this neighbourhood, brought 
hither by the strong conviction that you are concealed 
somewhere hereabouts. This circumstance renders 
it imperatively necessary that you should no longer 
persevere in the perilous practice of burning your 
lamp, which exposes you to tenfold danger." 

" Talk not to me of danger ! " exclaimed the man, 
in a dreadful state of excitement, and in a tone and 
words that seemed more like those of a raving mad- 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 39 

man than anything else — " I must have light — I 
should go distracted if I had not light. Darkness 
would drive me to self-destruction ! I tell you it is 
filled with horrible shapes. Even when I shut my 
eyes, the horrible spectre appears. Have pity ! — have 
mercy on me, and stay with me but this one single 
night ? — for even the light of the lamp itself cannot 
always banish the terrific spectre from before me ! " 

"Spectre!" cried Inverawe, shuddering with 
horror, — " what spectre ? " 

"Ay, the horrible spectre," replied the man. 
And then suddenly starting back, with his hands 
stretched forth, as if to keep ofT some terrific shape 
that had instantaneously risen before him, and with 
his eyeballs glaring towards the dark opening of the 
cave, he shrieked out — "Hell and torments! 'tis 
there again, — there — there — see there ! " 

" I see nothing," said Inverawe, with some diffi- 
culty retaining a proper command of himself. " But 
this is madness — absolute insanity. See, here is your 
food ; I must leave you immediately." 

"Oh, do not go!" said the stranger, following 
Inverawe for a few steps towards the mouth of the 
cave, and entreating him in a subdued and abject 
tone. And then, just as his protector was about to 
make his exit, he again started back, and stood as if 
he had been transfixed, whilst, with his hands 
stretched out before him, and his eyes fearfully staring 
on the vacancy of the darkness that was beyond the 
cavern's mouth, he again yelled out — "There ! there ! 
— see there ! " 

It must be honestly confessed that it was with no 



.40 



Weird Tales. 



very imperturbed state of nerves, that Inverawe com- 
mitted himself to the obscurity of that night, to hurry 
homewards ; and though no spectre appeared before 
his visual orbs, yet the harrowing spectacle which the 
guilty man had exhibited, and the allusion which he 
had made to the supposed spectre which he had seen 
in his imagination, kept that which he had himself 
beheld constantly floating before his mind's eye, 
during the whole of his way home ; and he was not 
sorry, when he reached his own hall, to find his lady 
sitting by the fire waiting for his return. She was 
lonely and cheerless, and full of anxious thoughts 
regarding him ; but her eye brightened up at his 
entrance, and she filled him a goblet of wine. 
Inverawe swallowed it greedily down, — gave her a 
brief and bare account of his evening's expedition, — 
and then they retired to their chamber. 

On this occasion Inverawe silently took the pre- 
caution of bolting the door of the apartment ; and, on 
going to bed, the lady, with great resolution of mind, 
determined within herself to keep off sleep, and to 
watch, so that she too might behold whatever appari- 
tion might appear ; hoping that if the spectre which 
had so disturbed Inverawe should, after all, prove to 
be nothing but a dream, she might be able, from her 
own observation, to disabuse him of his fantasy. 
But it so happened that, notwithstanding all her 
precautions, and all her mental exertions to prevent 
it, she fell immediately into a most unaccountably 
deep sleep ; and Inverawe himself, in spite of all his 
harassing and distressing thoughts, was speedily 
plunged into a similar state of utter unconsciousness. 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 41 

Again, for this the third night, he was awaked by 
the same light streaming through the apartment, and 
rendering the curtain of his bed transparent by its 
wonderful illumination. Again he looked round on 
his wife, and beheld every feature of her face clearly 
displayed by its influence. She lay in the soundest 
and sweetest repose. His first impulse was to awake 
her, but he instantly checked himself, and felt grateful 
that she was thus to be saved from the contemplation 
of the 'terrific spectral appearance, the shadow of 
which he now observed gliding slowly towards the 
bed. The curtain was again raised. The same well- 
remembered figure and face appeared under the usual 
increased intensity of light. Again the filmy plaid 
was partially dropped, and the fearful gash in the 
bosom was exposed, as before, pouring out blood. 
Again the deep, hollow voice came from the motion- 
less lips, but it was accompanied by a yet sterner 
expression of the eyes, and of the pale counten- 
ance. 

" Inverawe ! My warnings have been vain. The 
time is now past. Yet blood must flow for blood ! 
The blood of the murderer might have been offered 
up— now your blood must flow for his ! We meet 
once more at Ticonderoga ! " 

This last visitation of the apparition, accompanied 
as it was by a denunciation so terrible, had a yet 
more overwhelming effect upon Inverawe than either 
of those that preceded it. Bereft of all power over 
himself, he lay, conscious of existence it is true, but 
utterly incapable of commanding thought, much less 
of exercising action. Ere he could rally his intellect, 



4 2 



Weird Tales. 



or his nervous energy, the spectre was gone ; and the 
apartment was dark. When his thoughts began to 
arise within him, they were of a more agonizing 
character than any which he had formerly experi- 
enced — " Your blood must flow for his." These 
dreadful words still sounded in his ears, in the same 
deep, sepulchral tone in which they had been uttered. 
Do not suppose that one thought of himself ever 
crossed his mind. He thought of his son — that son, 
for whose welfare every desire of his life was concen- 
trated, — that was his blood, against which he con- 
ceived this dread prophecy to be directed — that was 
his blood which he dreaded might flow. He shivered 
at the very thought. He recalled the strange circum- 
stances which had attended the drinking of the toast 
to his roof-tree. His anxiety about his son was 
raised to a pitch, that converted his bed, for that 
night at least, into a bed of thorns. He slept not, 
yet all his tossings failed to awaken his lady, who 
slept as if she had been drenched with some soporifer- 
ous drug. The sun had no sooner darted his first 
rays through the casement, however, than she awaked 
as if from a most refreshing sleep. She looked round 
upon her husband, — observed his haggard and 
tortured expression, — and the whole recollection of 
what she previously knew having come upon her 
at once, she began vehemently to upbraid herself. 

"I have slept," said she, in a tone of vexed self- 
reprehension. " After all my determination to the 
contrary, I have slept throughout the whole night ; 
and you have been again disturbed. Say ! what has 
happened ? Have you seen him again ? " 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 43 

w I have seen him," replied Inverawe in a sub- 
dued tone and manner — " I have seen him, and his 
appearance was terrible." 

" Say — tell me ! — what passed ? " exclaimed the 
lady earnestly. " Inverawe, I must know all." 

Inverawe would have fain eaten in his words. He 
would have especially wished to have left his wife in 
ignorance of the denunciation to which the apparition 
had given utterance. But he had not as yet recovered 
sufficient mastery over himself, to enable him to baffle 
the questioning of an acute woman. In a short time 
the whole truth was extracted from him ; and now 
the lady, in a state of agitation that very much ex- 
ceeded his, began to press upon him the necessity of 
giving up the criminal to justice. Her argument was 
long and energetic ; and during the time that it 
occupied, he gradually resumed the full possession of 
himself. 

" I have heard you, my love," replied he calmly ; 
"yet you have urged, and you can urge nothing 
which can persuade me to break my solemn pledge. 
The hitherto spotless honour of Inverawe shall never 
be tarnished in my person. Dreadful as is the curse 
which has been denounced upon me, I am still 
resolved to act as an honourable man. Yet I will do 
this much. I will again visit the man in the cave, 
and insist with him that he shall seek some other 
place of refuge. I have done enough for him. I have 
suffered enough on his account. He must go else- 
where. Perhaps I should have come to this resolve 
yesterday — the time, alas ! may now be past. But, 
come what may, I am determined that the visit 



44 



Weird Tales. 



of this night shall be the last that I shall pay to him. 
He must go elsewhere. Even his own safety requires 
that he shall do so — and mine ! But no matter, he 
must seek some other asylum ! " 

Even this resolve — late though it might be, was, 
for the time, some consolation to the afflicted mind 
of his wife. Nay, it was in some degree matter of 
alleviation to his own sufferings. The broad sunlight 
of heaven, and the bustling action of the creatures of 
this world while all creation is awake, produces a 
wonderful effect upon the human mind, in relieving it 
from all those phantoms of anticipated evil which the 
silent shades of night are so apt to conjure up within 
it. Inverawe and his lady were less oppressed with 
gloomy thoughts during the day than might have been 
supposed possible. It is true that he often secretly 
repeated over the denunciation of the apparition, but 
even yet he would have fain persuaded himself, as he 
tried to persuade his wife, that he had been the sport 
of dreams, resulting from some morbid state of his 
system. 

" Ticonderoga ! " said he, " where is Ticonderoga ? 
I know of no such place ; nay, I never heard of any 
such place ; and, in truth, I do not believe that any 
such place really exists on the face of this earth. 
Ticonderoga ! A name so utterly unknown to me, 
and so strangely uncouth in itself, would lead me to 
believe that it is the coinage of my own distempered 
brain ; and if so, then the whole must have been an 
illusion. Yet it is altogether unaccountable and 
inexplicable." 

Thus it was that Inverawe reasoned during that 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 45 

day ; but as night again approached, it brought all its 
phantoms of the imagination along with it. 

Inverawe, however, wound himself up to go through 
with that which he now considered as his last trial. 
Having filled his basket as before, he set off on his 
wonted circuitous route to the cave. As he went 
thither, he endeavoured to steel up his mind to assume 
that resolute tone with the stranger which he now felt 
to be absolutely necessary to rid himself of so trouble- 
some and distressing a charge. Much as it did violence 
to his innate feelings of hospitality, to come to any 
such determination, he resolved to insist on his 
departure from the cave that very night, and he had 
no difficulty in persuading himself that his doing this 
would be the best line of safety he could prescribe for 
the stranger, seeing that, by the active use of his limbs 
during the remaining portion of it, he might well 
enough reach some distant place of concealment 
before daybreak. Full of such ideas, he pressed on 
towards the cave, that he might get him off with as 
little delay as possible. The light which had shone 
from its mouth- upon former occasions was now absent, 
and Inverawe hailed the circumstance as a proof that 
the wretched man had at last become more rational. 
He approached the orifice in the cliff, and gently 
called him. His own voice alone was returned to 
him from the hollow bowels of the rock. All was so 
mysteriously silent, that an involuntary chill fell upon 
Inverawe. He repeated his call in a louder voice, 
but still there was no reply — no stir from within. A 
cold shudder crept over him, and for a moment he 
half expected to see issue from the black void before 



46 Weird Tales, 



him, that appalling apparition which had now three 
several times appeared by his bedside. A little 
thought enabled him to get rid of this temporary 
weakness. He recalled the last words of the spectre, 
and the strange uncouth name of Ticonderoga. If 
such a place had existence at all, it was there, and 
there only, that he could expect to behold him again. 
He became reassured, and all his wonted manliness 
returned to him. He struck a light, and crept into 
the cave. A short survey of its interior satisfied him 
that the stranger was gone. The blanket, the ex- 
tinguished lamp, and some other things, lay there, but 
no other vestige of its recent inmate was to be seen. 
Inverawe felt relieved ; he was saved from even the 
semblance of inhospitality. But the recollection of 
the apparition's last words recurred to him, and then 
everything around him seemed to whisper him that 
indeed the time might now be past. He %>egan, most 
inconsistently, to wish that the stranger had still been 
there — nay, he almost hoped that he might yet be 
lingering about the neighbouring rocks or thickets. 
He sallied forth from the cave, and abandoning all 
his former caution, he shouted twice or thrice in 
succession, at the very top of his voice, but without 
obtaining any response, except that which came from 
the echoes of the cliffs, muffled as they were by the 
roar of the numerous cataracts of the mountain-side, 
and the howling blast that swept downward through 
the pass far below. For a moment he felt that if the 
stranger had been still in his power, he could have 
given him up to justice, to be dealt with as a murderer ; 
but reason made him blush, by bringing back to him 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 47 

his high and chivalric sense of honour in its fullest 
force, so that he turned to go homewards possessed 
with a very different train of thought. When his lady 
met him, she was eager in her inquiries, and deeply 
depressed when she learned that Inverawe had now 
lost all chance of delivering up the murderer. 

" Alas ! " said she, in an agony of tears, " the time 
is now past. " 

" Do not allow this matter to distress you so, my 
love," said Inverawe, endeavouring to soothe her into 
a calm, which he could by no means command for 
himself. "The more I think of it, the more I am 
persuaded that the whole has been a phantasm of the 
brain. Let us have a cup of wine, and laugh all such 
foolish fancies away ere we go to bed. This perplex- 
ing and distressing adventure has now passed by, and 
this night I hope to shake off all such vapours of the 
imagination." 

Inverawe had little sleep that night, but he was 
undisturbed by any reappearance of the apparition. 
Unknown to his wife, he made a circuitous excursion 
next day to Ben Cruachan, where a more accurate 
examination of the cave and its environs satisfied him 
that the stranger was indeed gone. And he was gone 
for ever, for Inverawe never afterwards saw him, — 
nor, indeed, did he ever again hear the slightest 
intelligence regarding him. 

Days, weeks, and months rolled away, and by 
degrees the gloom which these extraordinary and 
portentous events had brought upon Inverawe, as well 
as upon his lady, began to be in a great degree 
dissipated. His son had long since returned home in 



43 



Weird Tales, 



full health and vigour, and things fell gradually into 
their natural and usual course. 

Inverawe was one night sitting in social converse 
with his wife and his son, and their friend, young George 
Campbell — the same indivdual who, as you may re- 
member, was the giver of the toast of the roof-tree of 
Inverawe, — when a packet of letters was brought in, 
and handed to the Laird. 

" What is all this?" exclaimed he quickly, breaking 
the seal, and hastily examining the contents. ' 1 Ha ! 
the old Black Watch again ! this is news indeed ! " 

" What ?— what is it ? " cried his lady. 

" Glorious news ! " cried Inverawe, rubbing his 
hands. " I am appointed to the majority of the 
Highlanders ; and here is an ensign's commission for 
you, young gentleman," said he, addressing George 
Campbell. i 'And my friend Grant, who writes to 
me, tells me that he has got the lieutenant-colonelcy. 
What can be more delightful than the prospect of 
serving in such a corps, under the command of so old 
a friend ? " 

" Glorious ! — glorious !" cried young George Camp- 
bell, jumping from his chair, and dancing through the 
room with joy. 

" A bumper to the gallant Highlanders, and their 
brave commander ! " cried Inverawe, filling the cups. 

The toast was quaffed with enthusiasm. Young 
Inverawe alone seemed to feel that there was no joy 
in the cup for him. 

"Would I had a commission too !" said he, in a 
tone of extreme vexation. 

"Boy," said Inverawe, gravely, "Your time is 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 49 

coming. It will be well for you to stay at home to 
look after your mother. One of us two is enough in 
the field at once. " 

" Am I then to be doomed to sloth and idleness at 
home?" said Donald pettishly; " better put petti- 
coats on me at once, and give me a distaff to wield." 

" Speak not so, Donald," said his mother, in a 
trembling voice. "You are hardly old enough for 
such warlike undertakings ; and, indeed, your father 
says what .is but too true — for what could I do, were 
both of you to be torn from me?" 

Donald said no more. The cup circulated. George 
Campbell was in high spirits, and full of happy 
anticipations. 

" I hope we may soon be sent on service," said he 
exultingly. 

" You may have service sooner than you dream of," 
said Inverawe, going on to gather the remainder of the 
contents of his packet. ' ' Grant writes me here, that 
in consequence of the turn which matters are taking 
in America, he hopes every day for the arrival of an 
order for the regiment to embark. George, you and 
I must lose no time in making up our kits, for we 
must join the corps with all manner of expedition." 

The parting between Inverawe and his lady was 
tender and touching. Donald bid his father farewell 
with less appearance of regret than his known affection 
for him would have led any one to have anticipated. 
There was even a certain smile of triumph on his 
countenance as he saw them depart. But his mother 
was too much overwhelmed by her own feelings, to 
notice anything regarding those of her son. 

S D 



Weird Tales. 



The meeting between Inverawe and his old brother 
officers was naturally a joyous one, and nothing could 
be more delightful than the warmth of the reception 
he met with from his long-tried friend Colonel Grant, 
now commanding officer of the corps. 

" My dear fellow, Inverawe ! " said he, cordially 
shaking him by the hand, " this happy circumstance 
of having got you amongst us again, is even more 
gratifying to me than my own promotion, and yet, let 
me tell you, the peculiar circumstances attending that 
were gratifying enough. " 

" I need not assure you that the news of it were 
most gratifying to me," replied Inverawe. " It 
doubled the happiness I felt, in getting the majority, 
to find that I was to serve under so old and so much 
valued a friend. But to what particular circumstances 
do you allude ? " 

" When the step was opened to me, by the promo- 
tion of Colonel Campbell to the command of the fifty- 
fourth regiment," replied Colonel Grant, in a trembling 
voice, and with the tears beginning to swell in his eyes, 
" I was not a little surprised, and, as you will readily 
believe, pleased also, to be waited on by a deputation 
from the non-commissioned officers and privates of the 
corps, to make offer to me of a purse containing the 
sum necessary to purchase the lieutenant-colonelcy, 
which they had subscribed among themselves, and 
proposed to present to me, with the selfish view, as 
the noble fellows declared to me, of securing to them- 
selves, as commanding officer, a man whom they all 
so much loved and respected ! Campbell ! — Inver- 
awe ! " continued he, with his voice faltering still 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe, 51 

more from the swelling of his emotions, " I can never 
forget this, were I live to the age of Methuselah— I 
can never deserve it all — but — but — pshaw ! my heart 
is too full to give utterance To my feelings, and I 
must e'en play the woman." 

" Noble fellows indeed ! " cried Inverawe, fully 
sympathizing with him in all he felt ; "but by my 
faith they looked at the matter in its true light, when 
moved by selfish considerations, they were led so to 
act — for they well knew that you would be as a father 
to them." 

" I shall ever be as a father to them whilst it 
pleases God to spare me," said the Colonel warmly, 
" and if ever I desert them while life remains, may I 
be blown from the mouth of a cannon ! " 

"What was the result of this matter then?" de- 
manded Inverawe. 

" Why, as it happened," replied the Colonel, " the 
promotion went in the regiment without purchase, so 
that I enjoyed all the pleasure of receiving this kind 
demonstration from my children, without taxing their 
pockets, or laying myself under an unpleasant 
pecuniary obligation to them, which might at times 
have had a tendency in some degree to paralyze me 
in the wholesome exercise of strict discipline. And 
we shall require to stick the more rigidly to that now, 
seeing that we are going on service." 

1 1 We are going on service then ? " said Inverawe. 

" We have this very evening received our orders 
for America," replied Colonel Grant ; " and never 
did commanding officer go on service with more con- 
fidence in his men and officers than I do." 



5* 



Weird Tales, 



" And I may safely say that never did officers or 
men go on service with greater confidence in their 
commander than we shall do," replied Inverawe, 
again shaking the Colonel heartily by the hand. 

George Campbell was introduced by Inverawe to 
the particular notice of Colonel Grant, and by him to 
the rest of the officers, among whom he soon found 
himself at his ease. The time for their embarkation 
approached, and all was bustle and preparation 
amongst them. George had much to do, and it was 
with some difficulty, but with great inward delight, 
that he at last found himself complete in all his arms, 
trappings, and necessaries. The night previous to 
their going on board of the ships appointed to convey 
them to their place of destination, was a busy one for 
him, and he was still occupied, at a late hour, in his 
quarters, when he was surprised by a knock at his 
door. 

"Come in !" cried George Campbell. 

The door opened, and a young man entered, whose 
fatigued and soiled appearance showed that he had 
come off a long journey. 

" Donald Campbell of Inverawe ! " cried George, 
in utter astonishment ; and the young men were 
instantly in one another's arms. " My dear fellow, 
what strange chance has brought you hither?" 

" I come to throw myself on your honour," said 
Donald. " I come to throw myself on the honour of 
him whom I have ever held to be my dearest friend ; 
— on the honour of one who has never failed me 
hitherto, and who, if I mistake not, will not fail me 
now. Give me your solemn promise that you will 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe, 53 

keep my counsel, and do your best to assist me in my 
present undertaking." 

" Methinks you need harclly ask for my solemn 
promise," replied George Campbell ; "for you might 
safely count on my best exertions to oblige you at all 
times. But what can I do for you ? It would need 
to be something that may be quickly and immediately 
gone about, else I cannot stay to effect it. We 
embark to-morrow morning." 

" You will not require to stay behind the rest, in 
order to do what I require of you," said Donald of 
Inverawe. 

" I could not if I would," replied George Campbell. 

"Do you go in the same ship with my father?" 
demanded young Inverawe. 

" I wish I did," replied George Campbell ; "but I 
regret to say that I go in a different vessel." 

"So much the better for my purpose," replied 
young Inverawe eagerly. " You will be the better 
able to take me with you without my being dis- 
covered." 

" Take you with me ! " cried George Campbell, in 
great astonishment. "What in the name of wonder 
would you propose ? " 

" That which is perfectly reasonable," replied young 
Inverawe. "Do you think that I could sit quietly at 
home, whilst my father and you, and so many of my 
friends, are earning honour and glory abroad?" Ask 
yourself, George, what would you have done under 
my circumstances ? " 

" I have never thought as to how I might have 
acted, had I been so placed," replied George Camp- 



54 



Weird Tales. 



bell, much perplexed. " But I have no relish for 
having any hand in aiding you to oppose the will of 
your father." 

"No matter now, George, whether you have any 
relish for it or not," replied young Inverawe, smiling. 
" You have given me your promise that you will aid 
me, and you must now make the best of it. So come 
away. Let me see how you can best manage to get 
me aboard. I must not be seen by my father till 
we land in America, and then I shall enter as a 
volunteer." 

"What will your father say then?" demanded 
George Campbell. 

" Why, that the blood of Inverawe was too strong 
in me to be restrained," replied Donald. " Why, 
man, it is just what he would have done himself. He 
will be too proud of the spirit inherent in his house, 
which has impelled me to this act, ever to think of 
blaming me for it. Come, come, you have given me 
your word." 

" I have given you my word," said George Campbell ; 
u and I must honestly tell you that I wish I had been 
less precipitate. But having given it, I must in truth 
abide by it. It may be as you say, that your father 
will have more pride than pain in this matter, when 
he comes to know it. And then, as for myself, I 
shall be too happy to have you as my companion in so 
long a voyage. But come, let us have some refresh- 
ment, and then we can talk over the matter, and 
consider how your scheme may be best carried into 
effect." 

The thing was easily enough arranged. Many of 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 55 

the privates of the corps were gentlemen who had 
attendants of their own. There was nothing extra- 
ordinary, therefore, in an officer being so provided. 
A slight disguise was employed to alter Donald's 
appearance, so that he might escape detection from 
any one who had seen him before. Next morning he 
went on board in charge of some of Ensign George 
Campbell's baggage, and there he remained snugly 
until the expedition sailed. 

The Highland regiment embarked full of en- 
thusiasm, and it was ultimately landed at New York 
in the highest health and spirits. Colonel Stewart 
of Garth, in his interesting work, tells us, that they 
were caressed by all ranks and orders of men, but 
more particularly by the Indians. Those inhabitants 
of the wilds flocked from all quarters to see the 
strangers, as they were on their march to Albany, 
and the resemblance which they discovered between 
the Celtic dress and their own, inclining them to 
believe that they were of the same extraction as them- 
selves, they hailed them as brothers. Orders were 
issued to treat the Indians kindly ; but, although 
these were most generally and most cheerfully obeyed, 
instances did occur where gross acts of impropriety 
and harshness were exhibited towards them, and one 
of these I shall now mention. 

A young Indian, of tall and handsome proportions, 
with that conscious air of equality which they all 
possess, came up to a group of the Highlanders who 
were resting themselves round a fire. An ignorant 
and mischievous fellow of the party, who much more 
merited the name of savage than him of the woods, 



Weird Tales. 



having heated the end of the stalk of a tobacco pipe, 
handed it, full of tobacco, with much mock solemnity 
to the young Indian, — who, in ignorance of the trick, 
was just about to take it into his hand, and to apply 
the heated end of it to his lips, when a young High- 
lander who was present, dashed it to the ground. 
The Indian started — looked tomahawks at the High- 
land youth, and might have used one too, had not he, 
with his glove on, taken up a portion of the broken 
pipe-stalk, and signing to the Indian to feel it, made 
him sensible of the kind and friendly service he had 
rendered him. The ferocious rage that lightened in 
the eye of the red man was at once extinguished. A 
mild and benignant sunshine succeeded it. He took 
the hand of the young Highlander, and pressed it to 
his heart ; and then, darting a look of dignified con- 
tempt upon the poor creature who had been the 
author of this base and childish piece of knavery 
against him, he slowly, solemnly, and silently with- 
drew. 

Whilst Major Campbell of Inverawe was on the 
march, his noble appearance seemed to make a strong 
impression on their Indian followers. For his part, 
he was peculiarly struck with the fine figure and 
graceful mien of a heroic-looking young warrior of 
the woods, who seemed to keep near to him, as if 
earnestly intent on holding intercourse with him. He 
encouraged his approach ; and, conversing with him, 
as well as the young man's imperfect knowledge of 
English permitted him to do, he invited him, when 
they halted for refreshment, to partake of his hasty 
meal. The young Eagle Eye — for such was the 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 57 

Indian's name in his own tribe— carried a rifle ; and 
Major Campbell having put some questions to him as 
to his skill in using it, his curiosity was so excited by 
all that the red man said of himself, that he resolved 
to put it to the proof. Having loaded his own piece, 
therefore, he proposed to his new Indian ally, to take 
a short circuit, to look for game, during the brief time 
that the men were allowed for rest, and one or two of 
the officers arose to accompany them. The Eagle 
Eye moved on before them with that silence, and 
with that dignified air, which marked the confidence 
which he had in his own powers. A walk of a few 
hundred yards from their line of march, brought them 
into a small open space of grassy ground, surrounded 
by thickets. Inverawe stopped by chance to adjust 
the buckle of his bandoleer, when the Eagle Eye, 
who happened at that moment to be some paces to 
the right of him, sprang on him like a falcon, and 
threw him to the ground. As he was in the very act 
of doing so, an arrow from the thicket in front of them 
pierced the Indian's shoulder, whilst he, almost at the 
same moment, levelled his rifle, fired it in the direc- 
tion from whence the arrow came, and, rushing 
forward with a yell, plunged among the bushes. The 
whole of these circumstances passed so instantaneously, 
that Major Campbell's brother officers were con- 
founded. But having assisted him to rise from the 
ground, they congratulated him on his escape from 
a danger which neither he nor they could as yet very 
well comprehend or explain. They were not long 
left in suspense, however, for the Eagle Eye soon re- 
appeared, dragging from the thicket the body of an 



53 



Weird Tales, 



Indian belonging to a hostile tribe. In an instant, 
the Eagle Eye exercised his scalping-knife, and 
possessed himself of the bloody trophy of his enemy. 
On examination, the ball from his rifle was discovered 
to have perforated the brain through the forehead of 
his victim. The mystery was explained. The young 
Eagle Eye had suddenly descried the lurking foe, 
deeply nestled among the bushes, and in the act of 
taking a deliberate aim at Inverawe. He had saved 
the Major's life at the imminent risk of his own, and 
that quick sight from which he had his name, had 
enabled his ready hand to take prompt and deadly 
vengeance for the wound he had received in doing so. 
The grateful Inverawe felt beggared in expressions of 
thanks to his Indian preserver. He and his friends 
extracted the arrow from the shoulder of the hero, 
poured spirits into the wound, and bound it up ; and 
then, as they hastened back to join the troops, he 
entreated the Eagle Eye to tell him how he could 
recompense him. 

"It is enough for me," replied the young Indian 
warrior, with dignified gravity of manner, mingled 
with becoming modesty, and in his broken language, 
the imperfections of which I shall not attempt to give 
you, though I shall endeavour to preserve the finer 
peculiarities of its poetical conceptions, — " it is 
enough for my youth to be suffered to live within the 
shadow of a chief, broad as that which the great rock 
spreads over the grassy surface of the Prairie ; a 
chief among those who have come over the waters of 
the great salt lake, in number like that of the beavers 
of the mohawk, whose fathers were the brethren of 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe- 59 

our fathers, though their hunting grounds are now so 
far apart. The tribe of the Eagle Eye has been 
broken. The pride of the foes of the Eagle Eye is 
swelled by a thousand scalps of his kindred. He is 
like a solitary tree that has escaped from the whirl- 
wind that has levelled the forest. The Eagle Eye 
has no father — he is alone — make him thy son." 

" You shall be as a son to me ! " said Inverawe, 
deeply affected by the many tender recollections of 
home which this appeal had awakened in his mind. 
" You shall never want such fatherly protection as I 
can give you. But I would fain have you ask some 
more instant and direct recompense from me, for 
having thus so nobly saved my life at the peril of your 
own. Is there nothing immediate that I can do for 
you? Gratify me by asking something." 

" The Eagle Eye will obey his father," replied the 
Indian calmly. " One of your pale-faced tribe has 
deeply insulted your red son." 

"Ha!" exclaimed Inverawe, "find him out for 
me, and you shall forthwith see him punished to your 
heart's content." 

" The cunning and cowardly kite is beneath the 
vengeance of the Eagle," replied the Indian. "But 
there was a youth among your pale faces, who stood 
the red man's friend. Him would I hold as my 
brother. Him would I bring with me beneath the 
shelter of my father, the great chief, that he may grow 
green and lofty under his protection." 

"You shall search me out that youth," replied 
Inverawe, " and be assured he shall find a friend in 
me for your sake." 



6o 



Weird Tales. 



The Eagle Eye, with great dignity, took the right 
hand of Inverawe between both of his, and pressed it 
forcibly to his heart. When they reached the ground 
where the men were halting, the Major despatched a 
non-commissioned officer with the Indian, to find out 
the young man, and to bring him immediately before 
him. They soon reappeared with him ; and what was 
Inverawe's astonishment, when he lifted up his eyes, 
and beheld — his son ! 

It was exactly as Donald had himself prognosti- 
cated. Inverawe's heart was so filled with joy, in 
thus so unexpectedly beholding and embracing his 
boy, at the very moment when he had been dreaming 
that he was so far from him ; and with pride in think- 
ing of that brave spirit which had impelled him to 
follow him to America ; as well as with deep gratifi- 
cation at the kind-hearted act which had thus caused 
him to be so strangely brought before him, — that no 
room was left within it for those gloomy thoughts 
which might have otherwise arisen there. He clasped 
him again and again to his bosom, whilst the Indian 
stood by as a calm spectator of the scene, his coun- 
tenance unmoved by the feelings of sympathy that 
were working within him. Their first emotions were 
no sooner over, than Inverawe hurried Donald away 
to introduce him to the commanding-officer, and he 
was speedily admitted into the corps as a gentle- 
man volunteer, with the promise of the first vacant 
ensigncy. It will easily be believed, that the strict 
ties which were thus formed between the Campbells 
of Inverawe and the noble Eagle Eye, were destined 
to increase every day. Under the direction of his 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 61 

European friends, his wound was treated with the 
most tender care, and he was soon perfectly cured. 
The Eagle Eye deeply felt the kindness of his High- 
land father and brother ; but/ whether in happiness 
or in pain, in joy or in grief, his lofty countenance 
never betrayed those feelings which are so readily 
yielded to in civilised life. It was in vain that they 
tried to induce him to adopt European habits, or to 
domesticate him so far as to make him regularly 
participate in those comforts which are the fruits of 
civilisation. He adhered with pertinacity to his own 
customs, and looked down with barbarian dignity 
upon those of his hosts, which so widely differed from 
them ; and when at any time he was induced to 
partake of them, it was with a lofty native politeness, 
which seemed to indicate that he did so more in 
compliment to those with whom he was associated, 
than from any gratification he received in his own 
person. 

Circumstances, with which they or their command- 
ing officer had nothing to do, had kept the High- 
landers altogether out of action during the campaign 
°f 1757, which had done so little for the glory of the 
British arms. But in the autumn of this year, 
Lord Loudon was recalled,. and Lieutentant-General 
Abercromby succeeded to the command of the army. 
By this time, the Highlanders had received an acces- 
sion of strength, by the arrival of seven hundred 
recruits from their native mountains ; and the corps 
now numbered no less than thirteen hundred men, of 
size, figure, strength, and courage not easily to be 
matched. The British army in America now con- 



62 



Weird Tales. 



sisted altogether of above twenty - two chousand 
regulars, and thirty thousand provincial troops, 
which last could not be classed under that character. 
The hopes of all were high, therefore, and active 
operations were immediately contemplated. 

It was some little time before this, that Inverawe 
was spending an evening, tete-a-tete, with his friend 
Colonel Grant. The bottle was passing slowly but 
regularly between them, when, by some unaccount- 
able change in their conversation, the subject of 
supernatural appearances came to be introduced. 
Colonel Grant protested against all belief in them. 
The recollection of the apparition which had three 
several times visited Inverawe, came back upon his 
mind, in form and colours so strong and forcible, 
that his cheeks grew pale, and a deep gloom over- 
spread his brow ; so much so, indeed, that it did not 
escape the observation of his friend. Colonel Grant 
rallied him, and asked him, jocularly, if he had ever 
seen a ghost. 

" I declare I could almost fancy that you saw some 
spectre at this moment, Inverawe," said he. 

"Where? — how? — what?" cried Inverawe, dart- 
ing his eyes into every corner of the room, with a 
degree of perturbation which the Colonel had never 
seen him display before. 

" Nay," said the Colonel, surprised into sudden 
gravity, " I cannot say either where or what ; but I 
must confess that you seem to me as much disturbed 
at present as if you saw a spectre." 

" I cannot see him here," said Inverawe, with an 
abstracted solemnity of tone and manner, that greatly 



Vision of Campbell of Ifrverawe. 63 

increased his friend's astonishment—" I cannot see 
him here. This is not the place where I am fated to 
behold him." 

"Him!" exclaimed Colonel Grant, with growing 
anxiety — " him ! — whom, I pray you ? For Heaven's 
sake, tell me whom it is that you are fated to behold ! " 

" Pardon me," replied Inverawe, at length in 
some degree collecting his ideas, but speaking in a 
solemn tone. " An intense remembrance which came 
suddenly upon me, regarding strange circumstances 
which happened to myself, has betrayed me to talk 
of that which I would have rather avoided, and — 
and which cannot interest you, incredulous as you 
have declared yourself to be regarding all such super- 
natural visitations." 

" Nay, you will pardon me, if you please," said the 
the Colonel eagerly ; " for you have so wonderfully 
excited my curiosity, that I must e'en entreat you to 
satisfy me. What were these circumstances that 
happened to you ? — tell me, I conjure you." 

"It is with great pain," said Inverawe gravely, 
"that I enter upon them at all; for, although they 
still remain as fresh upon my mind as if they had 
happened yesterday, I would fain bury them, not 
only from all mankind, but from myself. And yet, 
perhaps, it may be as well that you should know 
them ; for, strange as they are in themselves, they 
would yet be stranger in their fulfilment. Listen 
then attentively, and I shall tell you every thing, 
even to the very minutest thought that possessed 
me." And so he proceeded to narrate all that I have 
already told. 



6 4 



Weird Tales. 



"Strange !" said the Colonel, after devouring the 
narrative with breathless attention, — " wonderfully- 
strange indeed ! But these are airy phantoms of the 
brain, which we must not — nay, cannot allow to weigh 
with us, or to dwell upon our minds, else might we be 
bereft of reason itself, by permitting them to get 
mastery over us, and so might we unwittingly aid 
them in working out their own accomplishment. 
Help yourself to another cup of wine, Inverawe, and 
then let us change the subject for something of a more 
cheerful nature." 

But all cheerfulness had fled from Inverawe for 
that night, and the friends soon afterwards separated, 
to seek a repose, which he at least in vain tried to 
court to his pillow for many hours ; and when sleep 
did come at last, the figure of the murdered man 
floated to and fro in his dreams. But it did so, only 
the more to convince him of the wonderful difference 
between such faint visions of slumber, and that vivid 
spectral appearance which had formerly so terribly 
and deeply impressed itself upon his waking senses, 
in his own bed-chamber at Inverawe. 

The conversation I have just repeated, together 
with Inverawe's narrative, remained strongly en- 
graven upon the recollection of Colonel Grant. The 
whole circumstances adhered to him so powerfully, 
that he almost felt as if he too had seen the appari- 
tion, and heard him utter his fatal words. He 
could not divest himself of a most intense solicitude 
about his friend's future fate, which he could in no 
manner of way explain to his own rational satisfac- 
tion. But the active and bustling duties which 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 65 

now called for his attention, in consequence of the 
approaching campaign, very speedily banished all 
such thoughts from his mind. 

It was not long after this, that Colonel Grant was 
summoned by General Abercromby to meet the other 
commanding-officers of corps in a council of war. 
The council lasted for many hours, and when the 
Colonel came forth from it after it had broken up, 
he was observed to have a cloud upon his brow, 
and a certain air of serious anxiety about him, which 
was very much augmented by his meeting with his 
friend Inverawe. 

"Well," said Inverawe cheerfully to him, as 
Colonel Grant joined him and his other officers at 
mess, " I hope you have good news for us, Colonel, 
and that at last you can tell us that we are to march 
out of quarters on some piece of active service." 

" We are to march to-morrow," replied the Colonel, 
with unusual gravity. 

" Whither ? " cried Inverawe eagerly. " Whither, 
if I may be permitted to ask ? " 

" We march to Lake George," replied the Colonel, 
with a very manifest disposition to taciturnity. 

"Pardon me," said Inverawe; "perhaps I push 
my questions indiscreetly, — if so, forgive me." 

" No," replied the Colonel, with assumed careless- 
ness. " I have nothing which the good of the service 
requires me to conceal from you, Inverawe, nor, 
indeed, from any one here present. We march for 
Lake George, as I have already said ; and there we 
are to be embarked in boats to proceed up the lake. 
Our object," added he, in a deeper and somewhat 
s E 



66 



Weird Tales, 



melancholy tone, — "our object is to attack Fort 
Defiance." 

"What sort of a place is it ? " demanded one of the 
officers. 

" A strong place, as I understand from the engineer 
who reconnoitred it," replied the Colonel. "But 
these American fastnesses are so beset with forests, 
that no one can well judge of them till he is fairly 
within their entrenchments." 

"Then let us pledge this cup to our speedy posses- 
sion of them ! " exclaimed Inverawe joyously. 

"With all my heart," said the Colonel, filling his 
to the brim, but with a solemnity of countenance that 
sorted but ill with the cheerful shouts of mutual inter- 
change of congratulation that arose around the table. 
' 1 With all my heart, I drink the toast, and may we 
all be there alive to drink a cup of thanks for our 
success." 

" Father," cried young Inverawe, in his keenness 
overlooking the Colonel's ominous addition to the 
toast ; " now father, these Frenchmen shall see what 
stuff Highlanders are made of ! " 

" They shall, my boy," replied Inverawe. " Come, 
then, as I am master of the revels to-night, I call on 
you all to fill a brimmer. I give you Highlanders 
shoulder to shoulder I " 

" Hurrah ! — hurrah ! — hurrah ! " vociferated the 
whole officers present. 

This was but the commencement of an evening of 
more than usual jollity. The spirits of all were up, 
and of all, none were so high in glee as those of 
Inverawe and his son. There was something, indeed, 



Vision of 'Campbell of Inverawe. 67 

which might have been almost said to have been 
strangely wild in the unwonted revelry of the father. 
Colonel Grant was the only individual present who 
did not seem to keep pace with the rest. The flask 
circulated with more than ordinary rapidity and 
frequency ; but as the mirth which it created rose 
higher and higher, and especially with Inverawe and 
young Donald, Colonel Grant's thoughts seemed to 
sink deeper and deeper into gloomy speculation. If 
any one ehanced so far to forget his own hilarity for 
a moment, as to observe the strange anomaly in his 
commanding-officer, it is probable that he attributed it 
to those cares which must necessarily arise in the mind 
of one with whom so much of the responsibility of 
the approaching contest must rest. He retired from 
the festive board at an early hour, leaving the others, 
who kept up their night's enjoyment as long as they 
could do so with decency. Inverawe and his son sat 
with them to the last ; and all agreed, at parting, that 
they had been the life and soul of that evening's revel. 

The next morning, the officers of the Highlanders 
were early astir, to get their men into order of march. 
Major Campbell of Inverawe was the most active 
man among them. General Abercromby's force 
upon this occasion consisted of about six thousand 
regulars, and nine thousand provincial troops, together 
with a small train of artillery. Before they moved 
off, the General rode along the line of troops, giving 
his directions to the field officers of each battalion in 
succession. When he came up to the Highlanders, 
he courteously accosted Colonel Grant and Major 
Campbell. 



68 



Weird Tales, 



"Gentlemen," said he, "we shall have toughish 
work of it ; for though the enemy have not had time 
to complete their defences, yet, I am told that, even 
in its present state, there are few places which are 
naturally likely to be of more troublesome entrance 
than we shall find — " 

"Than we shall find Fort Defiance" somewhat 
strangely interrupted Colonel Grant, with an em- 
phasis which not a little surprised Inverawe, as 
coming from a man usually so polite. " Ay, I 
have heard, indeed, that Fort Defiance is naturally 
a strong place, General. But what will not High- 
landers accomplish ! You may rely on it you shall 
have no cause to complain of the Black Watch ! " 

" I have no fear that I shall," replied the General, 
betraying no symptom of having taking offence at 
the Colonel's apparently unaccountable interruption. 
"I know that both you and your men will do your 
duty against Fort Defiance, or any other fort in 
America. " 

" Fort Defiance is a bold name, General," said 
Major Campbell, laughing. 

1 ' It is a bold name," said the Colonel gravely. 

" It is a vaunting name enough," replied the 
General. "Yet I hope to meet you both alive 
and merry as conquerors within its works. Mean- 
while, gentlemen, pray get your Highlanders under 
march for the boats with as little delay as 
possible." 

Not another word but the necessary words of com- 
mand were now uttered. The regiment moved off 
steadily, and the embarkation on Lake George was 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 69 

speedily effected, with the most perfect regularity 
and order, on the 5th of July 1758. 

It must have been a beautiful sight indeed, to have 
beheld that immense flotilla of boats moving over the 
pellucid surface of that lovely sheet of water — not a 
sound proceeding from them save that of the oars, 
the unruffled bosom of the lake everywhere reflecting 
the serene sky of a July evening, together with all 
the charms of its bold and varied shores, and its 
romantic* islands, — its stillness affording a strange 
prelude to that tempest of mortal contest which was 
about to ensue. Its breadth is about two miles — so 
that the boats nearly covered it from side to side. 
As they moved on, they were occasionally lost to the 
eyes of those who looked upon them from the shores, 
as they disappeared into the numerous channels formed 
by its islands, or were again discovered, as they 
emerged from these narrow straits. There were 
snatches of scenery, and many little circumstances 
in the features of nature around them, that called up 
the remembrance of their own Loch Awe to both the 
Laird of Inverawe and young Donald, as the sun 
went down ; and the pensiveness arising from these 
home recollections, at such a time, kept both of them 
silent. At length, after a safe and easy, and, on the 
part of the enemy, an unobserved navigation, the 
boats reached the northern end of the lake early on 
the ensuing morning ; and the landing having been 
effected without opposition, the troops were formed 
by General Abercromby into two parallel columns. 

The order was given to advance ; and the troops 
speedily came to an outpost of the enemy, which was 



7° 



Weird Tales. 



abandoned without a shot. But as they proceededj 
the nature of the ground, encumbered as it was with 
trees, rendered the march of both lines uncertain and 
wavering, so that the columns soon began to interfere 
with each other ; and great confusion ensued. Whilst 
endeavouring to extend themselves, the right column, 
composed of the Highlanders and the Fifty - fifth 
Regiment, under the command of Lord Howe, fell 
in with a detachment of the enemy, which had got 
bewildered in the wood, just as they themselves had 
done. The British attacked them briskly, and a 
sharp contest followed. The enemy behaved gallantly ; 
and the Highlanders especially distinguished them- 
selves. Young Donald of Inverawe, his bosom bound- 
ing with excitement, from the shouts of those engaged 
in the skirmish, rushed into the thickest part of the 
irregular melee, and performed such feats of prowess 
with his maiden claymore, that they might have done 
honour to an old and well-tried soldier. Excited yet 
more by his success, he became rash and unguarded, 
and being too forward in the pursuit among the trees 
— which had already broken the troops on both sides 
into small handfuls — he found himself suddenly 
engaged with three enemies at once. As he was 
just about to be overpowered by their united pressure 
upon him, a ball from a rifle stretched one of them 
lifeless before him, and in an instant afterwards, the 
Eagle Eye, whose accurate aim had directed it to its 
deadly errand, was flourishing his tomahawk over the 
head of another of his foes. It fell upon him — the 
skull was split open — the man rolled down on the 
ground a ghastly corpse ; and the third, that was left 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe, 7 1 

opposed to young Inverawe, began to give way in 
terror before him. Urging fiercely upon this last 
foe, however, the youth ran him through with one 
tremendous thrust, and he too "dropped dead. 

Flushed with success, Donald Campbell was now 
about to continue the pursuit after some fugitives of 
the enemy, who came rushing past him, when, turn- 
ing to call on his red brother and preserver, the Eagle 
Eye, to follow him, he beheld him stooping over one 
of his dead foes, in the act of scalping him. At that 
very moment he saw a French soldier approaching 
his. Indian brother unperceived, with sword uplifted, 
and with the fell intent of hewing him down. Spring- 
ing before the Eagle Eye, the young Inverawe pre- 
pared himself to receive the meditated stroke, warded 
it skilfully off, and then following in on his foe with 
a thrust, he penetrated him right through the breast, 
with a wound that was instantaneously mortal. The 
Eagle Eye was now as sensible that he owed his life 
to young Donald, as Donald could have been that his 
had been preserved by the Indian warrior. They 
stood for a moment gazing at each other, and then 
they embraced with an affection which the stern 
Eagle Eye had difficulty in veiling, and which young 
Inverawe could not conceal. 

By this time the enemy were all cut to pieces, or 
put to flight. The joy of this unexpected victory was 
turned into mourning by the death of Lord Howe 
who had been unfortunately killed in the early part 
of this random engagement. His loss at such a time 
was greater than anything they had gained by this 
partial overthrow of the enemy. And you will easily 



7 2 



Weird Tales. 



understand this, when I tell you that it was said of 
this young nobleman that he particularly distinguished 
himself by his courage, activity, and rigid observation 
of military discipline ; and that he had so acquired 
the esteem and affection of the soldiers, by his gener- 
osity, sweetness of manners, and engaging address, 
that they assembled in groups around the hurried 
grave to which his venerated remains were consigned, 
and wept over it in deep and silent grief. 

The troops having been much harrassed by this 
engagement, as well as by the troublesome nature of 
their march, General Abercromby, in consideration 
of the lateness of the hour, deemed it prudent to 
deliver them from the embarrassment of the woods, 
to march them back to the landing-place, which they 
reached early in the morning. They were then 
allowed the whole of the ensuing day and night for 
repose. But on the morning of the 8th of July, he 
rode up to the lines of the Highlanders, and saluting 
Colonel Grant and Major Campbell of Inverawe, 
" Gentlemen/' said he, "I have just obtained in- 
formation from some of the prisoners, that General 
Levi is advancing with three thousand men to rein- 
force, or succour, — a — a — a — to succour, I say — the 
garrison I wish to attack." 

"What ! " exclaimed Colonel Grant, — " to succour 
Fort Defiance, General? Then I presume you will 
move on directly, to strike the blow before they can 
arrive. " 

"That is exactly my intention," replied General 
Abercromby. 

"And now I must tell you confidentially, gentle- 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 73 

men, that the present garrison consists of fully five 
thousand men, of whom the greater part are said to be 
French troops of the line, who, as I am informed, are 
stationed behind the traverses," with large trees lying 
everywhere felled in front of them. But I have sent 
forward an engineer to reconnoitre more strictly, and 
I trust I shall have his report before we shall have 
advanced as far as — as — " 

" As Fort Defiance," interrupted Colonel Grant. 
' ' Well, •General, are we to be in the advance?" 

"No," replied the General. "As you and the 
Fifty-fifth have had all the fighting that has as yet 
fallen to our lot, I mean that you shall be in the 
reserve upon this occasion. The picquets will com- 
mence the assault, and they will be followed by the 
grenadiers, which will be in their turn supported by 
the battalions of the reserve. Nay, do not look 
mortified, Colonel ; — you and your men will have a 
bellyfull of it before all is done, I promise you. " 

With these words the General left them, and the 
columns moved on through the wood in the order he 
had signified to them. They had now possessed 
themselves of better guides, and they were thus 
enabled to make their march more direct, and as 
they had already cleared their front of enemies, the 
leading troops were soon up at the entrenchments. 
Here they were surprised to find a regular breast- 
work, nine or ten feet high, strongly defended with 
wall-pieces, and having a very impregnable chevaux 
de frieze, whilst the whole ground in front was every- 
where strewed thickly over with huge newly-felled 
oak trees for the distance of about a cannon-shot 



74 



Weird Tales, 



from the walls. From behind the chevaux de frieze, 
the enemy, in strong force, commenced a most gall- 
ing and destructive fire upon the assailants, so as to 
render the works almost unapproachable, without 
certain destruction, especially without the artillery, 
which, from some accident, had not as yet been 
brought up. But the very danger they had to 
encounter seemed to give the British troops a more 
than human courage. Regardless of the hailstorm of 
bullets discharged on them with deliberate aim from 
behind the abattis, whilst they were fighting their 
laborious and painful way through the labyrinth of 
fallen trunks and branches that opposed their passage, 
they continued, column after column, to advance, 
dropping and thinning fearfully as they went. 

The Highlanders beheld this slaughter that the 
enemy was making of their friends — their blood 
boiled within them. In vain Colonel Grant and 
Major Campbell galloped backwards and forwards 
along the line, using every command and every argu- 
ment that official authority or reason could employ to 
restrain and to soothe them, till their time for action 
should arrive. With one tremendous shout they 
rushed forward from the reserve, and, cutting their 
way through the trees with their claymores, they 
were soon showing their plumed crests among the 
very foremost ranks of the assailants. But so mur- 
derous was the fire that fell upon them, that their 
black tufted bonnets were seen dropping in all direc- 
tions, never to be again raised by the brave heads 
that bore them. Their loss before they gained the 
outward defences of the fort was fearful ; but the 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 75 

onset of those who survived was so overwhelming 
that it drove the enemy from these outworks, and 
compelled them to retreat within the body of the fort 
itself. 

Now came the most dreadful part of this work of 
death. The garrison, protected by the works of the 
fort, mowed down the ranks of the besiegers with a 
yet more certain and unerring aim. Under the false 
report that these works were as yet incomplete, 
scaling* ladders had been considered as unnecessary. 
The Highlanders, gnashing their teeth like raging 
tigers caught in the toils, endeavoured to clamber up 
the front of them, by rearing themselves on each 
other's shoulders, and by digging holes with their 
swords and bayonets in the face of the intrenchments. 
Some few succeeded, by such means, in gaining a 
footing on the top. But it was only to make them- 
selves more conspicuous, and more certain marks for 
destruction ; and they were no sooner seen, than 
their lifeless bodies, perforated by showers of bullets, 
were swept down upon their struggling comrades 
below. By repeated and multiplied exertions of this 
kind, Captain John Campbell succeeded in forcing 
his way entirely over the breastwork, at the head of 
a handful of men ; but they also were instantly 
despatched by the multitude of bayonets by which 
they were assailed. For hours did these gallant men 
persevere in the repetition of such daring attempts as 
I have described — all, alas ! with equal want of suc- 
cess, and with increasing slaughter, till General 
Abercromby ordered the retreat to be sounded. To 
this call, however, the Highlanders were deaf ; and 



76 



Weird Tales. 



it was not until Colonel Grant, after receiving three 
successive orders from the General, which he had 
failed in enforcing, threw himself among them, and 
literally drove them back from the works with his 
sword, that he could collect and bring away the 
small moiety that yet remained alive of that splendid 
regiment with which he had marched to the attack. 
More than one-half of the men, and two-thirds of the 
officers, were lying killed or wounded on that 
bloody field. 

Colonel Grant had hardly gathered this remnant of 
his men together, when he hastened back over the 
ground where the contest had raged, to search eagerly 
for some of those whom he most dearly loved, and 
for the cause of whose absence from this hasty muster 
he trembled to inquire or investigate. The enemy, 
though victorious, had been too roughly handled to 
be tempted to a sally, for the mere purpose of annoy- 
ing those who were peacefully engaged in the sad 
duty of carrying off their wounded or dying comrades. 
The Colonel was therefore enabled to make his way 
over the encumbered field without molestation, and 
with no other interruption than that which was pre- 
sented to him by the prostrate trees, which, however, 
seemed to him to offer greater obstruction to his 
present impatience than they had done during his 
advance with his corps to the attack. The scene was 
strangely terrible ! It might have been imagined by 
any one who looked upon that field, that all Nature, 
rven the elements themselves, had been at strife. 
Slaughtered, and mutilated, and dying men lay in 
confused heaps, or scattered singly among the over- 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 7 7 

thrown giants of the forest, those enormous trees 
which had been so recently rooted in the primeval 
soil, where they had stood for ages. Colonel Grant 
looked everywhere anxiously around him. Many 
were the familiar faces that he recognised, but their 
features were now so fixed by the last agonizing pang 
of a violent death, as cruelly, yet certainly, to assure 
him that they could never again in this world recog- 
nise him. The last spirited words of high and 
courageous hope, so recently uttered by many of 
them to him in their anticipation of triumph, still 
rang in his recollection, and as he tore his eyes away 
from them, the tears would burst over his manly 
cheeks as the thought arose in his mind, that words 
of theirs would never again reach his ears. He 
moved hurriedly on, endeavouring to suppress his 
feelings, but every now and then compelled to give 
way to them, till his attention was absorbingly 
attracted by descrying the dark form of an Indian, 
who was seated on his hams, beneath the arched 
trunk and boughs of a huge felled oak. It was the 
Eagle Eye. 

He sat motionless as a bronze statue, with the 
drapery of his blanket hanging in deep folds from his 
shoulders. His features were grave and still, and 
apparently devoid of feeling ; but his eyes were 
turned downward, and they were immoveably fixed 
on the countenance of a young man who lay stretched 
out a corpse before him. His head was supported 
between the knees of the red man, whilst the 
cold and stiffened fingers of him who was dead 
were firmly clasped between both his hands. The 



73 



Weird Tales, 



body was that of young Donald Campbell of 
Inverawe. 

"God help me!" cried the Colonel, clasping his 
hands and weeping bitterly. "God help me, what 
a spectacle ! " 

" Why should you weep, old man ? " said the Eagle 
Eye, with imperturbable calmness. "My young 
brother has gone to the Great Spirit, like a great 
warrior as he was. Who among his tribe shall be 
ashamed of him? Who among warriors shall call 
him a woman ? I could weep for him too did I not 
know that the Great Spirit has taken him to happi- 
ness, from which it were wicked in me to wish to 
have detained him for my own miserable gratifica- 
tion. But he is happy ! He has gone to those fair, 
boundless, and plentiful hunting - grounds that lie 
beyond the great lake, where he will never know 
want, and where we, if our deeds be like his, will 
surely follow him. But till then the sunshine of the 
Eagle Eye has departed, and night must surround his 
footsteps, since the light of his pale-faced brother has 
departed ! " 

" This is too much ! " said the Colonel, quite over- 
whelmed by his feelings. " Help me to bear off the 
body. It must not be left here." 

The Eagle Eye arose in silence, and gravely and 
solemnly assisted the Highlander who attended the 
Colonel to lift and bear away the body, and they had 
not thus proceeded more than a few paces in their 
retreat from the works, when the weeping eyes of the 
Highland commanding-officer and the eagle gaze of 
the red warrior were equally arrested at the same 



Vision of Campbell of Inverawe. 7 9 

moment by one and the same object. This was the 
manly and heroic form of Major Campbell of Inver- 
awe. He sat on the ground desperately wounded, 
with his back partially supported against the body of 
his horse, which had been killed under him. His 
eye-balls were stretched from their sockets, and fixed 
upon vacancy, with an expression of terror greater 
than that with which death himself, riding triumphant 
as he was over that field of the slain, could have filled 
those of so brave a man. Colonel Grant was so 
overcome that he could not utter a word. He was 
convulsed by his emotions. The Eagle Eye laid 
down the body of Donald opposite to his father, and 
silently resumed his former position, with the youth's 
head between his knees. The father's eyes caught 
the motionless features of his son, and he started 
from his strange state of abstraction. 

"My son!" murmured the wounded Inverawe. 
i 'So it is as I supposed — he is gone ! But I shall 
soon be with you, boy. God in his mercy help and 
protect your poor mother ! " 

" Speak not thus, my dearest friend ! " said Colonel 
Grant, making an effort to command himself, and 
hastening to support and comfort the wounded man ; 
"trust me, you will yet do welh You must live for 
your poor wife's sake." 

" No ! " replied Inverawe, with deep solemnity. 
"My hour is come. In vain was it that your kind 
friendship and that of the brave Abercromby suc- 
ceeded in deceiving me, — for I have seen him — I 
have seen him terribly, — and this is Ticonderoga ! " 

" Pardon me, my dear Inverawe, for a deception 



8o 



Weird Tales. 



which was so well intended," said the Colonel, much 
agitated. ' ' It is indeed Ticonderoga as you say, but 
— but — believe me, that which now disturbs you was 
only some phantom of your brain, arising from loss of 
blood and weakness. Cheer up !— Come, man ! — 
Come ! — Inverawe ! Merciful Heaven, he is gone ! ' : 



THE TAPESTRIED CHAMBER; 

OR, 

THE LADY IN THE SACQUE. 

By Sir Walter Scott. 

The following narrative is given from the pen, so far 
as memory permits, in the same character in which it 
was presented to the author's ear ; nor has he claim 
to further praise, or to be more deeply censured, than 
in proportion to the good or bad judgment which he 
has employed in selecting his materials, as he has 
studiously avoided any attempt at ornament which 
might interfere with the simplicity of the tale. 

At the same time, it must be admitted that the 
particular class of stories which turns on the marvel- 
lous, possesses a stronger influence when told than 
when committed to print. The volume taken up at 
noonday, though rehearsing the same incidents, 
conveys a much more feeble impression than is 
achieved by the voice of the speaker on a circle of 
fireside auditors, who hang upon the narrative as the 
narrator details the minute incidents which serve to 
give it authenticity, and lowers his voice with an 
affectation of mystery while he approaches the fearful 
and wonderful part. It was with such advantages 
that the present writer heard the following events 
related, more than twenty years since, by the celebrated 
Miss Seward, of Litchfield, who, to her numerous 

S F 



32 



Weird Tales. 



accomplishments, added, in a remarkable degree, the 
power of narrative in private conversation. In its 
present form the tale must necessarily lose all the 
interest which was attached to it, by the flexible voice 
and intelligent features of the gifted narrator. Yet 
still, read aloud, to an undoubting audience by the 
doubtful light of the closing evening, or, in silence, 
by a decaying taper, and amidst the solitude of a half- 
lighted apartment, it may redeem its character as a 
good ghost story. Miss Seward always affirmed that 
she had derived her information from an authentic 
source, although she suppressed the names of the two 
persons chiefly concerned. I will not avail myself of 
any particulars I may have .since received concerning 
the localities of the detail, but suffer them to rest 
under the same general description in which they 
were first related to me ; and, for the same reason, I 
will not add to or diminish the narrative, by any 
circumstance, whether more or less material, but simply 
rehearse, as I heard it, a story of supernatural terror. 

About the end of the American war, when the 
officers of Lord Cornwallis's army, which surrendered 
at Yorktown, and others, who had been made prisoners 
during the impolitic and ill-fated controversy, were 
returning to their own country, to relate their adven- 
tures, and repose themselves after their fatigues, 
there was amongst them a general officer, to whom 
Miss S. gave the name of Browne, but merely, as I 
understood, to save the inconvenience of introducing 
a nameless agent in the narrative. He was an officer 
of merit, as well as a gentleman of high consideration 
for family and attainments. 



The Tapestried Chamber. 83 

Some business had carried General Browne upon a 
tour through the western counties, when, in the 
conclusion of a morning stage, he found himself in 
the vicinity of a small country town, which presented 
a scene of uncommon beauty, and of a character 
peculiarly English. 

The little town, with its stately old church, whose 
tower bore testimony to the devotion of ages long 
past, lay amidst pastures and corn-fields of small 
extent, but bounded and divided with hedgerow 
timber of great age and size. There were few marks 
of modern improvement. The environs of the place 
intimated neither the solitude of decay nor the bustle 
of novelty ; the houses were old, but in good repair ; 
and the beautiful little river murmured freely on its 
way to the left of the town, neither restrained by a 
dam, nor bordered by a towing-path. 

Upon a gentle eminence, nearly a mile to the 
southward of the town, were seen, amongst many 
venerable oaks and tangled thickets, the turrets of a 
castle, as old as the wars of York and Lancaster, but 
which seemed to have received important alterations 
during the age of Elizabeth and her successor. It 
had not been a place of great size ; but whatever 
accommodation it formerly afforded was, it must be 
supposed, still to be obtained within its walls ; at 
least such was the inference which General Browne 
drew from observing the smoke arise merrily from 
several of the ancient wreathed and carved chimney- 
stalks. The wall of the park ran alongside of the 
highway for two or three hundred yards ; and through 
the different points by which the eye found glimpses 



S4 



Weird Tales. 



into the woodland scenery, it seemed to be well 
stocked. Other points of view opened in succession ; 
now a full one, of the front of the old castle, and now 
a side glimpse at its particular towers; the former rich 
in all the bizarrerie of the Elizabethan school, while 
the simple and solid strength of other parts of the 
building seemed to show that they had been raised 
more for defence than ostentation. 

Delighted with the partial glimpses which he 
obtained of the castle through the woods and glades 
by which this ancient feudal fortress was surrounded, 
our military traveller was determined to inquire 
whether it might not deserve a nearer view, and 
whether it contained family pictures or other objects 
of curiosity worthy of a stranger's visit ; when, leaving 
the vicinity of the park, he rolled through a clean and 
well-paved street, and stopped at the door of a well- 
frequented inn. 

Before ordering horses to proceed on his journey, 
General Browne made inquiries concerning the pro- 
prietor of the chateau which had so attracted his 
admiration ; and was equally surprised and pleased at 
hearing in reply a nobleman named, whom we shall 
call Lord Woodville. How fortunate ! Much of 
Browne's early recollections, both at school and at 
college, had been connected with young Woodville, 
whom, by a few questions, he now ascertained to be 
the same with the owner of this fair domain. He 
had been raised to the peerage by the decease of his 
father a few months before, and, as the General 
learned from the landlord, the term of mourning being 
ended, was now taking possession of his paternal 



The Tapestried Chamber. 85 

estate, in the jovial season of merry autumn, accom- 
panied by a select party of friends to enjoy the sports 
of a country famous for game. 

This was delightful news to our traveller. Frank 
Woodville had been Richard Browne's fag at Eton, 
and his chosen intimate at Christ Church ; their 
pleasures and their tasks had been the same ; and the 
honest soldier's heart warmed to find his early friend 
in possession of so delightful a residence, and of an 
estate, as the landlord assured him with a nod and a 
wink, fully adequate to maintain and add to his 
dignity. Nothing was more natural than that the 
traveller should suspend a journey, which there was 
nothing to render hurried, to pay a visit to an old 
friend under such agreeable circumstances. 

The fresh horses, therefore, had only the brief task 
of conveying the General's travelling carriage to 
Woodville Castle. A porter admitted them at a 
modern Gothic lodge, built in that style to correspond 
with the castle itself, and at the same time rang a bell 
to give warning of the approach of visitors. Appar- 
ently the sound of the bell had suspended the separation 
of the company, bent on the various amusements of 
the morning ; for, on entering the court of the chateau, 
several young men were lounging about in their 
sporting dresses, looking at and criticising the dogs 
which the keepers held in readiness to attend their 
pastime. As General Browne alighted, the young 
lord came to the gate of the hall, and for an instant 
gazed, as at a stranger, upon the countenance of his 
friend, on which war, with its fatigues and its wounds, 
had made a great alteration. But the uncertainty 



86 



Weird Tales. 



lasted no longer than till the visitor had spoken, and 
the hearty greeting which followed was such as can 
only be exchanged betwixt those who have passed 
together the merry days of careless boyhood or early 
youth. 

" If I could have formed a wish, my dear Browne," 
said Lord Woodville, "it would have been to have 
you here, of all men, upon this occasion, which my 
friends are good enough to hold as a sort of holiday. 
Do not think you have been unwatched during the 
years you have been absent from us. I have traced 
you through your dangers, your triumphs, your mis- 
fortunes, and was delighted to see that, whether in 
victory or defeat, the name of my old friend was 
always distinguished with applause." 

The General made a suitable reply, and con- 
gratulated his friend on his new dignities, and the 
possession of a place and domain so beautiful. 

" Nay, you have seen nothing of it as yet," said Lord 
Woodville, "and I trust you do not mean to leave us 
till you are better acquainted with it. It is true, I 
confess, that my present party is pretty large, and the 
old house, like other places of the kind, does not 
possess so much accommodation as the extent of the 
outward walls appears to promise. But we can give 
you a comfortable old-fashioned room, and I venture 
to suppose that your campaigns have taught you to 
be glad of worse quarters. " 

The General shrugged his shoulders, and laughed, 
" I presume," he said, "the worst apartment in your 
chateau is considerably superior to the old tobacco- 
cask, in which I was fain to take up my night's 



The Tapestried Cha??iber. 87 

lodging when I was in the Bush, as the Virginians 
call it, with the light corps. There I lay, like 
Diogenes himself, so delighted with my covering from 
the elements, that I made a vain attempt to have it 
rolled on to my next quarters ; but my commander 
for the time would give way to no such luxurious 
provision, and I took farewell of my beloved cask 
with tears in my eyes. " 

"Well, then, since you do not fear your quarters, " 
said Lord'Woodville, "you will stay with me a week 
at least. Of guns, dogs, fishing-rods, flies, and 
means of sport by sea and land, we have enough and 
to spare : you cannot pitch on an amusement but we 
will find the means of pursuing it. But if you prefer 
the gun and pointers, I will go with you myself, and 
see whether you have mended your shooting since 
you have been amongst the Indians of the back 
settlements." 

The General gladly accepted his friendly host's 
proposal in all its points. After a morning of manly 
exercise, the company met at dinner, where it was 
the delight of Lord Woodville to conduce to the 
display of the high properties of his recovered friend, 
so as to recommend him to his guests, most of whom 
were persons of distinction. He led General Browne 
to speak of the scenes he had witnessed ; and as 
every word marked alike the brave officer and the 
sensible man, who retained possession of his cool 
judgment under the most imminent dangers, the 
company looked upon the soldier with general re- 
spect, as on one who had proved himself possessed 
of an uncommon portion of personal courage, — that 



88 



Weird Tales. 



attribute, of all others, of which everybody desires to 
be thought possessed. 

The day at Woodville Castle ended as usual in such 
mansions. The hospitality stopped within the limits 
of good order. Music, in which the young lord was 
a proficient, succeeded to the circulation of the bottle ; 
cards and billiards, for those who preferred such 
amusements, were in readiness ; but the exercise of 
the morning required early hours, and not long after 
eleven o'clock the guests began to retire to their 
several apartments. 

The young Lord himself conducted his friend, 
General Browne, to the chamber destined for him, 
which answered the description he had given of it, 
being comfortable, but old-fashioned. The bed was 
of the massive form used in the end of the seven- 
teenth century, and the curtains of faded silk, heavily 
trimmed with tarnished gold. But then the sheets, 
pillows, and blankets looked delightful to the cam- 
paigner, when he thought of his " mansion, the 
cask." There was an air of gloom in the tapestry 
hangings, which, with their worn-out graces, cur- 
tained the walls of the little chamber, and gently 
undulated as the autumnal breeze found its way 
through the ancient lattice-window, which pattered 
and whistled as the air gained entrance. The toilet, 
too, with its mirror, turbaned, after the manner of 
the beginning of the century, with a coiffure of 
murrey-coloured silk, and its hundred strange-shaped 
boxes, providing for arrangements which had been 
obsolete for more than fifty years, had an antique, 
and in so far a melancholy, aspect. But nothing 



The Tapestried Chamber. 89 



could blaze more brightly and cheerfully than the two 
large wax candles ; or if aught could rival them, it 
was the flaming bickering fagots in the chimney that 
sent at once their gleam and their warmth through 
the snug apartment, which, notwithstanding the 
general antiquity of its appearance, was not wanting 
in the least convenience that modern habits rendered 
either necessary or desirable. 

" This is an old - fashioned sleeping apartment, 
General," said the young lord; "but I hope you 
find nothing that makes you envy your old tobacco- 
cask." 

"I am not particular respecting my lodgings," 
replied the General ; ' - yet were I to make any choice, 
I would prefer this chamber by many degrees to the 
gayer and more modern rooms of your family mansion. 
Believe me, that when I unite its modern air of com- 
fort with its venerable antiquity, and recollect that it 
is your lordship's property, I shall feel in better 
quarters here, than if I were in the best hotel 
London could afford. " 

"I trust — I have no doubt — that you will find 
yourself as comfortable as I wish you, my dear 
General," said the young nobleman ; and once more 
bidding his guest good-night, he shook him by the 
hand, and withdrew. 

The General once more looked around him, and 
internally congratulating himself on his return to 
peaceful life, the comforts of which were endeared by 
the recollection of the hai dships and dangers he had 
lately sustained, undressed himself, and prepared for 
a luxurious night's rest. 



9 o 



Weird Tales. 



Here, contrary to the custom of this species of tale, 
we leave the General in possession of his apartment 
until the next morning. 

The company assembled for breakfast at an early 
hour, but without the appearance of General Browne, 
who seemed the guest that Lord Woodville was desir- 
ous of honouring above all whom his hospitality had 
assembled around him. He more than once ex- 
pressed himself surprised at the General's absence, 
and at length sent a servant to make inquiry after 
him. The man brought back information that 
General Browne had been walking abroad since an 
early hour of the morning, in defiance of the weather, 
which was misty and ungenial. 

"The custom of a soldier," said the young noble- 
man to his friends; "many of them acquire habitual 
vigilance, and cannot sleep after the early hour at 
which their duty usually commands them to be alert." 

Yet the explanation which Lord Woodville thus 
offered to the company seemed hardly satisfactory to 
his own mind, and it was in a fit of silence and 
abstraction that he awaited the return of the General. 
It took place near an hour after the breakfast bell 
had rung. He looked fatigued and feverish. His 
hair — the powdering and arrangement of which was 
at this time one of the most important occupations of 
a man's whole day, and marked his fashion as much 
as, in the present time, the tying of a cravat, or the 
want of one — was dishevelled, uncurled, void of 
powder, and dank with dew. His clothes were 
huddled on with a careless negligence, remarkable in 
a military man, whose real or supposed duties are 



The Tapestried Chamber. 91 



usually held to include some attention to the toilet ; 
and his looks were haggard and ghastly in a peculiar 
degree. 

" So you have stolen a march upon us this morning, 
my dear General," said Lord Woodville; "or you 
have not found your bed so much to your mind as I 
had hoped and you seemed to expect. How did you 
rest last night ? " 

"Oh, excellently well! remarkably well! never 
better in my life," said General Browne rapidly, and 
yet with an air of embarrassment which was obvious 
to his friend. He then hastily swallowed a cup of 
tea, and, neglecting or refusing whatever else was 
offered, seemed to fall into a fit of abstraction. 

" You will take the gun to-day, General ? " said his 
friend and host, but had to repeat the question twice 
ere he received the abrupt answer, "No, my lord ; I 
am sorry I cannot have the opportunity of spending 
another day with your lordship : my post horses are 
ordered, and will be here directly." 

All who were present showed surprise, and Lord 
Woodville immediately replied, " Post horses, my 
good friend ! what can you possibly want with them, 
when you promised to stay with me quietly for at 
least a week ? " 

"I believe," said the General, obviously much 
embarrassed, " that I might, in the pleasure of my 
first meeting with your lordship, have said something 
about stopping here a few days ; but I have since 
found it altogether impossible." 

"This is very extraordinary," answered the young 
nobleman. "You seemed quite disengaged yester- 



9 2 



Weird Tales. 



day, and you cannot have had a summons to-day ; 
for our post has not come up from the town, and 
therefore you cannot have received any letters." 

General Browne, without giving any further ex- 
planation, muttered something about indispensable 
business, and insisted on the absolute necessity of his 
departure in a manner which silenced all opposition 
on the part of his host, who saw that his resolution 
was taken, and forbore all further importunity. 

"At least, however," he said, "permit me, my 
dear Browne, since go you will or must, to show you 
the view from the terrace, which the mist, that is now 
rising, will soon display. " 

He threw open a sash window, and stepped down 
upon the terrace as he spoke. The General followed 
him mechanically, but seemed little to attend to what 
his host was saying, as, looking across an extended 
and rich prospect, he pointed out the different objects 
worthy of observation. Thus they moved on till 
Lord Woodville had attained his purpose of drawing 
his guest entirely apart from the rest of the company, 
when, turning round upon him with an air of great 
solemnity, he addressed him thus : 

"Richard Browne, my old and very dear friend, 
we are now alone. Let me conjure you to answer 
me, upon the word of a friend, and the honour of a 
soldier. How did you in reality rest during last 
night ? " 

" Most wretchedly indeed, my lord," answered the 
General, in the same tone of solemnity; "so miser- 
ably, that I would not run the risk of such a second 
night, not only for all the lands belonging to this 



The Tapestried Chamber. 93 



castle, but for all the country which I see from this 
elevated point of view." 

"This is most extraordinary," said the young lord, 
as if speaking to himself; " then there must be some- 
thing in the reports concerning that apartment." 
Again turning to the General, he said, "For God's 
sake, my dear friend, be candid with me, and let me 
know the disagreeable particulars which have befallen 
you under a roof where, with consent of the owner, 
you should have met nothing save comfort." 

The General seemed distressed by this appeal, and 
paused a moment before he replied. "My dear 
lord," he at length said, "what happened to me last 
night is of a nature so peculiar and so unpleasant, 
that I could hardly bring myself to detail it even to 
your lordship, were it not that, independent of my 
wish to gratify any request of yours, I think that 
sincerity on my part may lead to some explanation 
about a circumstance equally painful and mysterious. 
To others, the communication I am about to make 
might place me in the light of a weak-minded, super- 
stitious fool, who suffered his own imagination to 
delude and bewilder him ; but you have known me in 
childhood and youth, and will not suspect me of 
having adopted in manhood the feelings and frailties 
from which my early years were free." Here he 
paused, and his friend replied : 

" Do not doubt my perfect confidence in the truth 
of your communication, however strange it may be," 
replied Lord Woodville ; " I know your firmness of 
disposition too well to suspect you could be made the 
object of imposition, and am aware that your honour 



94 



Weird Tales. 



and your friendship will equally deter you from 
exaggerating whatever you may have witnessed." 

''Well, then," said the General, "I will proceed 
with my story as well as I can, relying upon your 
candour, and yet distinctly feeling that I would 
rather face a batteiy than recall to my mind the 
odious recollections of last night." 

He paused a second time, and then perceiving that 
Lord Woodville remained silent and in an attitude of 
attention, he commenced, though not without obvious 
reluctance, the history of his night adventures in the 
Tapestried Chamber. 

" I undressed and went to bed so soon as your 
lordship left me yesterday evening ; but the wood in 
the chimney, which nearly fronted my bed, blazed 
brightly and cheerfully, and, aided by a hundred 
exciting recollections of my childhood and youth, 
which had been recalled by the unexpected pleasure 
of meeting your lordship, prevented me from falling 
immediately asleep. I ought, however, to say that 
these reflections were all of a pleasant and agree- 
able kind, grounded on a sense of having for a time 
exchanged the labour, fatigues, and dangers of my 
profession, for the enjoyments of a peaceful life, and 
the reunion of those friendly and affectionate ties, 
which I had torn asunder at the rude summons of 
war. 

" While such pleasing reflections were stealing over 
my mind, and gradually lulling me to slumber, I was 
suddenly aroused by a sound like that of the rustling 
of a silken gown, and the tapping of a pair of high- 
heeled shoes, as if a woman were walking in the 



The Tapestried Chamber. 95 



apartment. Ere I could draw the curtain to see 
what the matter was, the figure of a little woman 
passed between the bed and the fire. The back of 
this form was turned to me, and I could observe, 
from the shoulders and neck, it was that of an old 
woman, whose dress was an old-fashioned gown, 
which, I think, ladies call a sacque ; that is, a sort ot 
robe completely loose in the body, but gathered into 
broad plaits upon the neck and shoulders, which fall 
down to the ground, and terminate in a species of 
train. 

" I thought the intrusion singular enough, but 
never harboured for a moment the idea that what I 
saw was anything more than the mortal form of some 
old woman about the establishment, who had a fancy 
to dress like her grandmother, and who, having per- 
haps (as your lordship mentioned that you were 
rather straitened for room) been dislodged from her 
chamber for my accommodation, had forgotten the 
circumstance, and returned by twelve to her old 
haunt. Under this persuasion, I moved myself in 
bed and coughed a little, to make the intruder 
sensible of my being in possession of the premises. 
She turned slowly round, but, gracious Heaven, my 
lord, what a countenance did she display to me ! 
There was no longer any question what she was, or 
any thought of her being a living being. Upon a 
face which wore the fixed features of a corpse were 
imprinted the traces of the vilest and most hideous 
passions which had animated her while she lived. 
The body of some atrocious criminal seemed to have 
been given up from the grave, and the soul restored 



9 6 



Weird Tales. 



from the penal fire, in order to form, for a space, an 
union with the ancient accomplice of its guilt. I 
started up in bed, and sat upright, supporting myself 
on my palms, as I gazed on this horrible spectre. 
The hag made, as it seemed, a single and swift stride 
to the bed where I lay, and squatted herself down 
upon it in precisely the same attitude which I had 
assumed in the extremity of horror, advancing her 
diabolical countenance within half a yard of mine, 
with a grin that seemed to intimate the malice and 
the derision of an incarnate fiend." 

Here General Browne stopped, and wiped from his 
brow the cold perspiration with which the recollection 
of his horrible vision had covered it. 

" My lord," he said, "I am no coward. I have 
been in all the mortal dangers incidental to my 
profession, and I may truly boast, that no man 
ever knew Richard Browne dishonour the sword he 
wears; but in these horrible circumstances, under the 
eyes, and, as it seemed, almost in the grasp of an 
incarnation of an evil spirit, all firmness forsook me, 
all manhood melted from me like wax in the furnace, 
and I felt my hair individually bristle. The current 
of my life-blood ceased to flow, and I sank back in a 
swoon, as very a victim to panic terror as ever was a 
village girl, or a child of ten years old. How long I 
lay in this condition I cannot pretend to guess. 

"But I was roused by the castle clock striking 
one, so loud that it seemed as if it were in the very 
room. It was some time before I dared open my 
eyes, lest they should again encounter the horrible 
spectacle. When, however, I summoned courage to 



The Tapestried Chamber. 97 

look up, she was no longer visible. My first idea 
was to pull my bell, wake the servants, and remove 
to a garret or a hay- loft, to be ensured against a 
second visitation. Nay, I will confess the truth, that 
my resolution was altered, not by the shame of 
exposing myself, but by the fear that, as the bell- 
cord hung by the chimney, I might, in making my 
way to it, be again crossed by the fiendish hag, who, 
I figured to myself, might be still lurking about some 
corner of the apartment. 

" I will not pretend to describe what hot and cold 
fever-fits tormented me for the rest of the night, 
through broken sleep, weary vigils, and that dubious 
state which forms the neutral ground between them. 
An hundred terrible objects appeared to haunt me; 
but there was the great difference betwixt the vision 
which I have described, and those which followed, 
that I knew the last [to be deceptions of my own 
fancy and over-excited nerves. 

" Day at last appeared, and I rose from my bed ill 
in health and humiliated in mind. I was ashamed of 
myself as a man and a soldier, and still more so, at 
feeling my own extreme desire to escape from the 
haunted apartment, which, however, conquered all 
other considerations ; so that, huddling on my clothes 
with the most careless haste, I made my escape from 
your lordship's mansion, to seek in the open air some 
relief to my nervous system, shaken as it was by this 
horrible encounter with a visitant, for such I must 
believe her, from the other world. Your lordship 
has now heard the cause of my discomposure, and of 
my sudden desire to leave your hospitable castle. In 

S G 



93 



Weird Tales. 



other places I trust we may often meet ; but God 
protect me from ever spending a second night under 
that roof ! " 

Strange as the General's tale was, he spoke with 
such a deep air of conviction, that it cut short all the 
usual commentaries which are made on such stories. 
Lord Woodville never once asked him if he was sure 
he did not dream of the apparition, or suggested any 
of the possibilities by which it is fashionable to explain 
supernatural appearances, as wild vagaries of the 
fancy, or deceptions of the optic nerves. On the 
contrary, he seemed deeply impressed with the truth 
and reality of what he had heard ; and after a con- 
siderable pause, regretted, with much appearance of 
sincerity, that his early friend should in his house 
have suffered so severely. 

" I am the more sorry for your pain, my dear 
Browne," he continued, "that it is the unhappy, 
though most unexpected, result of an experiment of 
my own. You must know that, for my father and 
grandfather's time at least,, the apartment which was 
assigned to you last night had been shut on account 
of reports that it was disturbed by supernatural sights 
and noises. When I came, a few weeks since, into 
possession of the estate, I thought the accommodation 
which the castle afforded for my friends was not 
extensive enough to permit the inhabitants of the 
invisible world to retain possession of a comfortable 
sleeping apartment. I therefore caused the Tapestried 
Chamber, as we call it, to be opened ; and, without 
destroying its air of antiquity, I had such new articles 
of furniture placed in it as became the modern times. 



The Tapestried Chamber, 



Yet as the opinion that the room was haunted very 
strongly prevailed among the domestics, and was also 
known in the neighbourhood and to many of my 
friends, I feared some prejudice might be entertained 
by the first occupant of the Tapestried Chamber, 
which might tend to revive the evil report which it 
had laboured under, and so disappoint my purpose of 
rendering it an useful part of the house. I must con- 
fess, my dear 'Browne, that your arrival yesterday, 
agreeable to. me for a thousand reasons besides, seemed 
the most favourable opportunity of removing the un- 
pleasant rumours which attached to the room, since 
your courage was indubitable, and your mind free of 
any pre-occupation on the subject. I could not, 
therefore, have chosen a more fitting subject for my 
experiment." 

"Upon my life," said General Browne, somewhat 
hastily, U I am infinitely obliged to your lordship — 
very particularly indebted indeed. I am likely to 
remember for some time the consequences of the 
experiment, as your lordship is pleased to call it." 

" Nay, now you are unjust, my dear friend," said 
Lord Woodville. "You have only to reflect for a 
single moment, in order to be convinced that I could 
not augur the possibility of the pain to which you 
have been so unhappily exposed. I was yesterday 
morning a complete sceptic on the subject of super- 
natural appearances. Nay, I am sure that had I 
told you what was said about that room, those very 
reports would have induced you, by your own choice, 
to select it for your accommodation. It was my 
misfortune, perhaps my error, but really cannot be 



IOO 



Weird Tales. 



termed my fault, that you have been afflicted so 
strangely." 

"Strangely indeed !" said the General, resuming 
his good temper ; " and I acknowledge that I have 
no right to be offended with your lordship for treating 
me like what I used to think myself — a man of some 
firmness and courage. But I see my post horses are 
arrived, and I must not detain your lordship from 
your amusement." 

"Nay, my old friend," said Lord Woodville, 
since you cannot stay with us another day, which, 
indeed, I can no longer urge, give me at least half an 
hour more. You used to love pictures and I have a 
gallery of portraits, some of them by Vandyke, repre- 
senting ancestry to whom this property and castle 
formerly belonged. I think that several of them will 
strike you as possessing merit." 

General Browne accepted the invitation, though 
somewhat unwillingly. It was evident he was not 
to breathe freely or at ease till he left Woodville 
Castle far behind him. He could not refuse his 
friend's invitation, however ; and the less so, that he 
was a little ashamed of the peevishness which he had 
displayed towards his well-meaning entertainer. 

The General, therefore, followed Lord Woodville 
through several rooms, into a long gallery hung with 
pictures, which the latter pointed out to his guest, 
telling the names, and giving some account of the 
personages whose portraits presented themselves in 
progression. General Browne was but little in- 
terested in the details which these accounts conveyed 
to him. They were, indeed, of the kind which are 



The Tapestried Chamber. 101 

usually found in an old family gallery. Here, was a 
cavalier who had ruined the estate in the royal cause ; 
there, a fine lady who had reinstated it by contracting 
a match with a wealthy Roundhead. There, hung a 
gallant who had been in danger for corresponding 
with the exiled Court at Saint Germain's ; here, one 
who had taken arms for William at the Revolution ; 
and there, a third that had thrown his weight alter- 
nately into the scale of Whig and Tory. 

While Lord Woodville was cramming these words 
into his guest's ear, " against the stomach of his 
sense," they gained the middle of the gallery, when 
he beheld General Browne suddenly start, and assume 
an attitude of the utmost surprise, not unmixed with 
fear, as his eyes were caught and suddenly riveted by 
a portrait of an old, old lady in a sacque, the fashion- 
able dress of the end of the seventeenth century. 

" There she is ! " he exclaimed ; " there she is, in 
form and features, though inferior in demoniac 
expression, to the accursed hag who visited me last 
night ! " 

"If that be the case," said the young nobleman, 
" there can remain no longer any doubt of the horrible 
reality of your apparition. That is the picture of a 
wretched ancestress of mine, of whose crimes a black 
and fearful catalogue is recorded in a family history in 
my charter-chest. The recital of them would be too 
horrible ; it is enough to say, that in yon fatal apart- 
ment incest and unnatural murder were committed. 
I will restore it to the solitude to which the better 
judgment of those who preceded me had consigned 
it ; and never shall any one, so long as I can prevent 



102 



Weird Tales. 



it, be exposed to a repetition of the supernatural 
horrors which could shake such courage as yours." 

Thus the friends, who had met with such glee, 
parted in a very different mood; Lord Woodville to 
command the Tapestried Chamber to be unmantled, 
and the door built up ; and General Browne to seek 
in some less beautiful country, and with some less 
dignified friend, forgetfulness of the painful night 
which he had passed in Woodville Castle. 



HIGHLAND SNOWSTORM. 



By John Wilson 
("Christopher North"). 

One family, lived in Glencreran, and another in 
Glencoe — the families of two brothers — seldom visit- 
ing each other on working days, seldom meeting even 
on Sabbaths, for theirs was not the same parish kirk 
— seldom coming together on rural festivals or 
holidays, for in the Highlands now these are not so 
frequent as of yore ; yet all these sweet seldoms, 
taken together, to loving hearts made a happy many, 
and thus, though each family passed its life in its 
own home, there were many invisible threads stretched 
out through the intermediate air, connecting the two 
dwellings together, — as the gossamer keeps floating 
from one tree to another, each with its own secret 
nest. And nest-like both dwellings were. That in 
Glencoe, built beneath a treeless but high-heathered 
rock, — lone in all storms, — with greensward and 
garden on a slope down to a rivulet, the clearest of 
the clear (oh ! once woefully reddened !), and growings 
so it seems, in the mosses of its own roof, and the 
huge stones that overshadow it, out of the earth. 
That in Glencreran more conspicuous, on a knoll 
among the pastoral meadows, midway between moun- 
tain and mountain, so that the grove which shelters 
it, except when the sun is shining high, is darkened 
103 



Weird Tales, 



by their meeting shadows, — and dark indeed, even in 
the sunshine, for 'tis a low but wide-armed grove of 
old oak-like pines. A little farther down, and Glen- 
creran is very sylvan ; but this dwelling is the highest 
up of all, the first you descend upon, near the foot of 
that wild hanging staircase between you and Glen- 
Etive. And, except this old oak-like grove of pines, 
there is not a tree, and hardly a bush, on bank or 
brae, pasture or hay-field, though these are kept by 
many a rill, there mingling themselves into one 
stream, in a perpetual lustre that seems to be as 
native to the grass as its light is to the glow-worm. 
Such are the two huts, for they are huts and no more 
— and you may see them still, if you know how to 
discover the beautiful sights of nature from descriptions 
treasured in your heart, and if the spirit of change, 
now nowhere at rest on the earth, not even in its most 
solitary places, have not swept from the scenes the 
beautified, the humble but hereditary dwellings that 
ought to be allowed, in the fulness of the quiet time, 
to relapse back into the bosom of nature, through 
insensible and unperceived decay. 

These huts belonged to brothers, and each had an 
only child, — a son and a daughter, — born on the same 
' day, and now blooming on the verge of youth. A 
year ago, and they were but mere children ; but what 
wondrous growth of frame and spirit does nature at 
that season of life often present before our eyes ! So 
that we almost see the very change going on between 
morn and morn, and feel that these objects of our 
affection are daily brought closer to ourselves, by 
partaking daily more and more in all our most sacred 



Highla7td Snowstorm. 105 

thoughts, in our cares and in our duties, and in know- 
ledge of the sorrows as well as the joys of our common 
lot. Thus had these cousins grown up before their 
parents' eyes — Flora Macdonald, a name hallowed of 
yore, the fairest, and Ronald Cameron, the boldest of 
all the living flowers in Glencoe and Glencreran. It 
was now their seventeenth birthday, and never had a 
winter sun smiled more serenely over a knoll of snow. 
Flora, it had been agreed on, was to pass that day in 
Glencreran, and Ronald to meet her among the moun- 
tains, that he might bring her down the many pre- 
cipitous passes to his parents' hut. It was the middle 
of February, and the snow had lain for weeks with all 
its drifts unchanged, so calm had been the weather 
and so continued the frost. At the same hour, known 
by horologe on the cliff touched by the finger of 
dawn, the happy creatures left each their own glen, 
and mile after mile of the smooth surface glided away 
past their feet, almost as the quiet water glides by the 
little boat that in favouring breezes walks merrily 
along the sea. And soon they met at the trysting 
place — a bank of birch trees beneath a cliff that takes 
its name from the eagles. 

On their meeting, seemed not to them the whole 
of nature suddenly inspired with joy and beauty ? 
Insects, unheard by them before, hummed and 
glittered in the air ; from tree roots, where the snow 
was thin, little flowers, or herbs flower-like, now for 
the first time were seen looking out as if alive ; the 
trees themselves seemed budding, as if it were already 
spring ; and rare as in that rocky region are the birds 
of song, a faint trill for a moment touched their ears, 



io6 



Weird Tales. 



and the flutter of a wing, telling them that somewhere 
near there was preparation for a nest. Deep down 
beneath the snow they listened to the tinkle of rills 
unreached by the frost, and merry, thought they, was 
the music of these contented prisoners. Not Summer's 
self, in its deepest green, so beautiful had ever been 
to them before, as now the mild white of Winter ; 
and as their eyes were lifted up to heaven, when had 
they ever seen before a sky of such perfect blue, a sun 
so gentle in its brightness, or altogether a week-day 
in any season so like a Sabbath in its stillness, so like 
a holiday in its joy ? Lovers were they, although as 
yet they scarcely knew it ; for from love only could 
have come such bliss as now was theirs, — a bliss, that 
while it beautified was felt to come from the skies. 

Flora sang to Ronald many of her old songs, to 
those wild Gaelic airs that sound like the sighing of 
winds among fractured cliffs, or the branches of storm- 
tossed trees, when the subsiding tempest is about to 
let them rest. Monotonous music ! but irresistible 
over the heart it has once awakened and enthralled, 
so sincere seems to be the mournfulness it breathes — a 
mournfulness brooding and feeding on the same note, 
that is at once its natural expression and sweetest 
aliment, of which the singer never wearieth in her 
dream, while her heart all the time is haunted by all 
that is most piteous, — by the faces of the dead in 
their paleness returning to the shades of life, only 
that once more they may pour from their fixed eyes 
those strange showers of unaccountable tears ! 

How merry were they between those mournful 
airs ! How Flora trembled to see her lover's burning 



Highland Snowstorm, 107 



brow and flashing eyes, as he told her tales of great 
battles fought in foreign lands, far across the sea — 
tales which he had drunk in with greedy ears from 
the old heroes scattered all over Lochaber and 
Badenoch, on the brink of the grave still garrulous 
of blood ? 

u The sun sat high in his meridian tower." 

But time had not been with the youthful lovers, and 
the blessed beings believed that 'twas but a little hour 
since beneath the Eagle Cliff they had met in the 
prime of the morn ! 

The boy starts to his feet, and his keen eye looks 
along the ready rifle— for his sires had all been famous 
deer - stalkers, and the passion of the chase was 
hereditary in his blood. Lo ! a deer from Dalness, 
hound-driven, or sullenly astray, slowly bearing his 
antlers up the glen, then stopping for a moment to 
snuff the air, then away — away ! The rifle-shot rings 
dully from the scarce echoing snow-cliffs, and the 
animal leaps aloft, struck by a certain but not sudden 
death-wound. Oh ! for Fingal now to pull him down 
like a wolf ! But labouring and lumbering heavily 
along, the snow spotted as he bounds with blood, the 
huge animal at last disappears round some rocks at 
the head of the glen. " Follow me, Flora ! " the 
boy -hunter cries; and flinging down their plaids, they 
turn their bright faces to the mountain, and away up 
the long glen after the stricken deer. Fleet was the 
mountain girl ; and Ronald, as he ever and anon 
looked back to wave her on, with pride admired her 
lightsome motion as she bounded along the snow. 



io8 



Weird Tales. 



Redder and redder grew that snow, and more heavily 
trampled, as they winded round the rocks. Yonder 
is the deer, staggering up the mountain, not half a 
mile off — now standing at bay, as if before his 
swimming eyes came Fingal, the terror of the forest, 
whose howl was known to all the echoes, and quailed 
the herd while their antlers were yet afar off. t£ Rest, 
Flora, rest ! while I fly to him with my rifle, and 
shoot him through the heart ! " 

Up — up — up the interminable glen, that kept 
winding and winding round many a jutting pro- 
montory and many a castellated cliff, the red-deer 
kept dragging his gore-oozing bulk, sometimes almost 
within, and then for some hundreds of yards just 
beyond, rifle-shot ; while the boy, maddened by the 
chase, pressed forwards, now all alone, nor any more 
looking behind for Flora, who had entirely dis- 
appeared ; and thus he was hurried on for miles by 
the whirlwind of passion, — till at last he struck the 
noble quarry, and down sank the antlers in the snow, 
while the air was spurned by the convulsive beatings 
of feet. Then leaped Ronald upon the red-deer like 
a beast of prey, and lifted up a look of triumph to the 
mountain-tops. 

Where is Flora ! Her lover has forgotten her — 
and he is alone — nor knows it — he and the red-deer — 
an enormous animal, fast stiffening in the frost of 
death. 

Some large flakes of snow are in the air, and they 
seem to waver and whirl, though an hour ago there 
was not a breath. Faster they fall and faster — the 
flakes are almost as large as leaves ; and overhead 



Highland Snowstorm. 109 

whence so suddenly has come that huge yellow cloud ? 
" Flora, where are you ? where are you, Flora? " and 
from the huge hide the boy leaps up, and sees that no 
Flora is at hand. But yonder is a moving speck, far 
off upon the snow. 'Tis she — 'tis she ; and again 
Ronald turns his eyes upon the quarry, and the heart 
of the hunter burns within him like a new-stirred fire. 
Shrill as the eagle's cry disturbed in his eerie, he sends 
a shout down the glen, and Flora, with cheeks pale 
and bright by fits, is at last by his side. Panting and 
speechless she stands, and then dizzily sinks on his 
breast. Her hair is ruffled by the wind that revives 
her, and her face all moistened by the snow-flakes, 
now not falling, but driven — for the day has under- 
gone a dismal change, and all over the sky are now 
lowering savage symptoms of a fast-coming night- 
storm. 

Bare is poor Flora's head, and sorely drenched her 
hair, that an hour or two ago glittered in the sun- 
shine. Her shivering frame misses now the warmth 
of the plaid, which almost no cold can penetrate, and 
which had kept the vital current flowing freely in 
many a bitter blast. What would the miserable boy 
give now for the coverings lying far away, which, in 
his foolish passion, he flung down to chase that fatal 
deer? "Oh, Flora! if you would not fear to stay 
here by yourself, under the protection of God, who 
surely will not forsake you, soon will I go and come 
from the place where our plaids are lying ; and under 
the shelter of the deer we may be able to outlive the 
hurricane, — you wrapped up in them, — and folded, O 
my dearest sister, in my arms ! " "I will go with 



no 



Weird Tales, 



you down the glen, Ronald ! " and she left his breast, 
but, weak as a day-old lamb, tottered and sank down 
on the snow. The cold — intense as if the air were 
ice — had chilled her very heart, after the heat of that 
long race ; and it was manifest that here she must be 
for the night — to live or to die. And the night 
seemed already come, so full was the lift of snow ; 
while the glimmer every moment became gloomier, 
as if the day were expiring long before its time. 
Howling at a distance down the glen was heard a 
sea-born tempest from the Linnhe Loch, where now 
they both knew the tide was tumbling in, bringing 
with it sleet and snow-blasts from afar ; and from the 
opposite quarter of the sky an inland tempest was 
raging to meet it, while every lesser glen had its own 
uproar, so that on all hands they were environed with 
death. 

"I will go — and, till I return, leave you with 
God." " Go, Ronald ! " And he went and came, as 
if he had been endowed with the raven's wings. 

Miles away and miles back had he flown, and an 
hour had not been with his going and his coming ; 
but what a dreary wretchedness meanwhile had been 
hers ! She feared that she was dying — that the cold 
snowstorm was killing her — and that she would never 
more see Ronald, to say to him farewell. Soon as 
he was gone, all her courage had died. Alone, she 
feared death, and wept to think how hard it was for 
one so young thus miserably to die. He came, and 
her whole being was changed. Folded up in both 
the plaids, she felt resigned. " Oh ! kiss me, kiss 
me, Ronald ; for your love — great as it is — is not as 



Highland Snowstorm. in 

my love. You must never forget me, Ronald, when 
your poor Flora is dead." 

Religion with these two young creatures w r as as 
clear as the light of the Sabbath day ; and their belief 
in heaven just the same as in earth. The will of God 
they thought of just as they thought of their parents' 
will ; and the same was their living obedience to its 
decrees. If she was to die, supported now by the 
presence of hec brother, Flora was utterly resigned ; 
if she was to live, her heart imaged to itself the very 
forms of her grateful worship. But all at once she 
closed her eyes, ceased breathing, — and, as the 
tempest howled and rumbled in the gloom that fell 
around them like blindness, Ronald almost sunk 
down, thinking that she was dead. 

" Wretched sinner that I am — my wicked madness 
brought her here to die of cold ! " And he smote his 
breast, and tore his hair, and feared to look up, lest 
the angry eye of God were looking on him through 
the storm. 

All at once, without speaking a word, Ronald 
lifted Flora in his arms, and walked away up the glen, 
here almost narrowed into a pass. Distraction gave 
him supernatural strength, and her weight seemed 
that of a child. Some walls of what had once been a 
house, he had suddenly remembered, were but a short 
way off ; whether or not they had any roof he had 
forgotten, — but the thought even of such a shelter 
seemed a thought of salvation. There it was — a 
snow-drift at the opening that had once been a door 
— snow up the holes once windows — the wood of the 
roof had been carried off for fuel, and the snow-flakes 



112 



Weird Tales. 



were falling in, as if they would soon fill up the inside 
of the ruin. The snow in front was all trampled, 
as if by sheep ; and carrying in his burden under 
the low lintel, he saw the place was filled with a 
flock that had foreknown the hurricane, and that, 
all huddled together, looked on him as on the 
shepherd, come to see how they were faring in the 
storm. 

And a young shepherd he was, with a lamb 
apparently dying in his arms. All colour, all motion, 
all breath, seemed to be gone ; and yet something 
convinced his heart that she was yet alive. The 
ruined hut was roofless, but across an angle of the 
walls some pine branches had been flung, as a sort of 
shelter for the sheep or cattle that might repair 
thither in cruel weather — some pine-branches left by 
the wood-cutters, who had felled the few trees that 
once stood at the very head of the glen. Into that 
corner the snow-drift had not yet forced its way, and 
he sat down there, with Flora in the cherishing of his 
embrace, hoping that the .warmth of his distracted 
heart might be felt by her, who was as cold as a 
corpse. The chill air was somewhat softened by the 
breath of the huddled flock, and the edge of the 
cutting wind blunted by the stones. It was a place 
in which it seemed possible that she might revive, 
miserable as it was with the mire-mixed snow, and 
almost as cold as one supposes the grave. And she 
did revive, and under the half-open lids the dim blue 
appeared to be not yet life-deserted. It was yet but 
the afternoon, — night-like though it was, — and he 
thought, as he breathed upon her lips, that a faint red 



Highland Snowstorm. 113 

returned, and that they felt the kisses he dropt on 
them to drive death away. 

" Oh ! father, go seek for Ronald, for I dreamt to- 
night that he was perishing in the snow." "Flora, 
fear not — God is with us." " Wild swans, they say, 
are come to Loch Phoil. Let us go, Ronald, and see 
them ; but no rifle — for why kill creatures said to be 
so beautiful?" Over them where they lay, bended 
down the pine«-branch roof, as if it would give way 
beneath the increasing weight; but there it still hung, 
though the drift came over their feet, and up to their 
knees, and seemed stealing upwards to be their 
shroud. " Oh ! I am overcome with drowsiness, 
and fain would be allowed to sleep. Who is dis- 
turbing me— and what noise is this in our house?" 
"Fear not, fear not, Flora, — God is with us." 
1 ' Mother ! am I lying in your arms ? My father 
surely is not in the storm. Oh, I have had a most 
dreadful dream ! " and with such mutterings as these 
Flora relapsed again into that perilous sleep, which 
soon becomes that of death. 

Night itself came, but Flora and Ronald knew it 
not ; and both lay motionless in one snow-shroud. 
Many passions, though earth-born, heavenly all — 
pity, and grief, and love, and hope, and at last 
despair, had prostrated the strength they had so long 
supported ; and the brave boy — who had been for 
some time feeble as a very child after a fever, with a 
mind confused and wandering, and in its perplexities 
sore afraid of some nameless ill — had submitted to lay 
down his head beside his Flora's, and had soon become, 
like her, insensible to the night and all its storms. 
S H 



ii4 



Weird Tales. 



Bright was the peat fire in the hut of Flora's 
parents in Glencoe, — and they were among the 
happiest of the humble happy, blessing this the birth- 
day of their blameless child. They thought of her, 
singing her sweet songs by the fireside of the hut in 
Glencreran, and tender thoughts of her cousin Ronald 
were with them in their prayers. No warning came 
to their ears in the sugh or the howl ; for fear it is 
that creates its own ghosts, and all its own ghost- 
like visitings ; and they had seen their Flora, in the 
meekness of the morning, setting forth on her way 
over the quiet mountains, like a fawn to play. Some- 
times too, Love, who starts at shadows as if they 
were of the grave, is strangely insensible to realities 
that might well inspire dismay. So was it now with 
the dwellers in the hut at the head of Glencreran. 
Their Ronald had left them in the morning, — night 
had come, and he and Flora were not there ; but the 
day had been almost like a summer day, and in their 
infatuation they never doubted that the happy crea- 
tures had changed their minds, and that Flora had 
returned with him to Glencoe. Ronald had laughingly 
said that haply he might surprise the people in that 
glen by bringing back to them Flora on her birthday, 
and, strange though it afterwards seemed to her to 
be, that belief prevented one single fear from touch- 
ing his mother's heart, and she and her husband that 
night lay down in untroubled sleep. 

And what could have been done for them had they 
been told by some good or evil spirit that their chil- 
dren were in the clutches of such a night ? As well 
seek for a single bark in the middle of the misty 



Highland Snowstorm, 115 

main ! But the inland storm had been seen brewing 
among the mountains round King's House, and hut 
had communicated with hut, though far apart in 
regions where the traveller sees no symptoms of 
human life. Down through the long cliff-pass of 
Mealanumy, between Buchael-Etive and the Black 
Mount, towards the lone House of Dalness, that lies 
in everlasting shadows, went a band of shepherds, 
trampling their way across a hundred frozen streams. 
Dalness joined its strength, and then away over the 
drift-bridged chasms toiled that gathering, with their 
sheep-dogs scouring the loose snows in the van, 
Fingal the Red Re? ver, with his head aloft on the 
look-out for deer, grimly eyeing the corrie where last 
he tasted blood. All " plaided in their tartan array," 
these shepherds laughed at the storm, — and hark, you 
hear the bagpipe play — the music the Highlanders 
love both in war and in peace. 

"They think then of the owrie cattle, 
And silly sheep ; *' 

and though they ken 'twill be a moonless night, — for 
the snowstorm will sweep her out of heaven, — up the 
mountain and down the glen they go, marking where 
flock and herd have betaken themselves ; and now, at 
midfall, unafraid of that blind hollow, they descend 
into the depth where once stood the old grove of 
pines. Following their dogs, who know their duties 
in their instinct, the band, without seeing it, are now 
close to that ruined hut. Why bark the sheep-dogs 
so ? — and why howls Fingal, as if some spirit passed 
athwart the night ? He scents the dead body of the 



n6 Weird Tales, 

boy who so often had shouted him on in the forest 
when the antlers went by ! Not dead — nor dead she 
who is on his bosom. Yet life in both is frozen — 
and will the red blood in their veins ever again be 
thawed ! Almost pitch dark is the roofless ruin ; and 
the frightened sheep know not what is that terrible 
shape that is howling there. But a man enters, and 
lifts up one of the bodies, giving it into the arms of 
those at the doorway, and then lifts up the other ; 
and by the flash of a rifle they see that it is Ronald 
Cameron and Flora Macdonald, seemingly both 
frozen to death. Some of those reeds that the 
shepherds burn in their huts are kindled, and in that 
small light they are assured that such are the corpses. 
But that noble dog knows that death is not there, and 
licks the face of Ronald, as if he would restore life to 
his eyes. Two of the shepherds know well how to 
fold the dying in their plaids, — how gentlest to carry 
them along ; for they had learnt it on the field of 
victorious battle, when, without stumbling over the 
dead and wounded, they bore away the shattered 
body, yet living, of the youthful warrior who had 
shown that of such a clan he was worthy to be the 
chief. 

The storm was with them all the way down the 
glen ; nor could they have heard each others' voices 
had they spoke ; but mutely they shifted the burden 
from strong hand to hand, thinking of the hut in 
Glencoe, and of what would be felt there on their 
arrival with the dying or the dead. Blind people 
walk through what to them is the night of crowded 
day -streets, unpausing turn round corners, unhesitating 



Highland Snowstorm. 117 



plunge down steep stairs, wind their way fearlessly 
through whirlwinds of life, and reach in their serenity, 
each one unharmed, his own obscure house. For 
God is with the blind. So is He with all who walk 
on walks of mercy. This saving band had no fear, 
therefore there was no danger, on the edge of the pit- 
fall or the cliff. They knew the countenances of the 
mountains, shown momentarily by ghastly gleamings 
through the fitful night, and the hollow sound of each 
particular stream beneath the snow, at places where 
in other weather there was a pool or a water-fall. 
The dip of the hills, in spite of the drifts, familiar to 
their feet, did not deceive them now ; and then the 
dogs, in their instinct, were guides that erred not : 
and as well as the shepherds knew it themselves, did 
Fingal know that they were anxious to reach Glencoe. 
He led the way as if he were in moonlight ; and often 
stood still when they were shifting their burden, and 
whined as if in grief. He knew where the bridges 
were — stones or logs ; and he rounded the marshes 
where at springs the wild fowl feed. And thus 
instinct, and reason, and faith, conducted the saving 
band along ; and now they are at Glencoe, and at 
the door of the hut. 

To life were brought the dead ; and there, at mid- 
night, sat they up like ghosts. Strange seemed they 
for a while to each others' eyes, and at each other 
they looked as if they had forgotten how dearly once 
they loved. Then, as if in holy fear, they gazed in 
each others' faces, thinking that they had awoke 
together in heaven. " Flora!" said Ronald, — and 
that sweet word, the first he had been able to speak, 



n8 



Weird Tales. 



reminded him of all that had passed, and he knew 
that the God in whom they had put their trust had 
sent them deliverance. Flora, too, knew her parents, 
who were on their knees ; and she strove to rise up 
and kneel down beside them, but she was powerless 
as a broken reed ; and when she thought to join with 
them in thanksgiving, her voice was gone. Still as 
death sat all the people in the hut, and one or two 
who were fathers were not ashamed to weep. 




LEGEND OF THE DROPPING WELL. 



By Hugh Miller. 

%t Mop. — Is it true, think you ? 
Aut. — Very true ; — why should I carry lies abroad?" 

Winter's Tale. 

In perusing in some of our older Gazetteers the half 
page devoted to Cromarty, we find that, among the 
natural curiosities of the place, there is a small cavern 
termed the Dropping Cave, famous for its stalactites 
and its petrifying springs. And though the progress 
of modern discovery has done much to lower the 
wonder, by rendering it merely one of thousands of 
the same class, — for even among the cliffs of the hill 
in which the cavern is perforated, there is scarcely a 
spring that has not its border of coral-like petrifac- 
tions, and its moss and grass and nettle-stalks of 
marble,- — the Dropping Cave may well be regarded as 
a curiosity still. It is hollowed, a few feet over the 
beach, in the face of one of the low precipices which 
skirt the entrance of the bay. From a crag which 
overhangs the opening there falls a perpetual drizzle, 
which, settling on the moss and lichens beneath, 
converts them into stone ; and on entering the long 
narrow apartment within, there may be seen by the 
dim light of the entrance a series of springs, which 
filter through the solid rock above, descending in so 
continual a shower, that even in the sultriest days 
119 



120 



Weird Tales. 



of midsummer, when the earth is parched and the 
grass has become brown and withered, we may hear 
the eternal drop pattering against the rough stones of 
the bottom, or tinkling in the recess within, like the 
string of a harp struck to ascertain its tone. A stone 
flung into the interior, after rebounding from side to 
side of the rock, falls with a deep hollow plunge, as 
if thrown into the sea. Had the Dropping Cave 
been a cavern of Greece or Sicily, the classical mytho- 
logy of these countries would have tenanted it with 
the goddess of rains and vapour. 

The walk to the cave is one of the most agreeable 
in the vicinity of the town, especially in a fine morn- 
ing of midsummer, an hour or so after the sun has 
risen out of the Firth. The path to it has been 
hollowed out of the hill-side by the feet of men and 
animals, and goes winding over rocks and stones — 
now in a hollow, now on a height, anon lost in the 
beach. In one of the recesses which open into the 
hill, a clump of forest-trees has sprung up, and, lifting 
their boughs to the edge of the precipice above, cover 
its rough iron features as if with a veil ; while, from 
the shade below, a fine spring, dedicated in some 
remote age to " Our Ladye," comes bubbling to the 
light with as pure and copious a stream as in the days 
of the priest and the pilgrim. We see the beach 
covered over with sea-shells and weeds, the cork 
buoys of the fishermen, and fragments of wrecks. 
The air is full of fragrance. Only look at yonder 
white patch in the hollow of the hill ; 'tis a little city 
of flowers, a whole community of one species — the 
meadow-sweet. The fisherman scents it over the 



Legend of the Dropping Well. 121 

water, as he rows homeward in the cool of the even- 
ing, a full half-mile from the shore. And see how 
the hill rises above us, roughened with heath and fern 
and foxglove, and crested a-top with a dark wood of 
fir. See how the beeches which have sprung up on 
the declivity recline in nearly the angle of the hill, so 
that their upper branches are only a few feet from 
the soil ; reminding us, in the midst of warmth and 
beauty, of the rough winds of winter and the blasting 
influence of the spray. The insect denizens of the 
heath and the wood are all on wing ; see, there is the 
red bee, and there the blue butterfly, and yonder the 
burnet-moth with its wings of vermilion, and the 
large bird -like dragon-fly, and a thousand others 
besides, all beautiful and all happy. And then the 
birds. But why attempt a description ? The 
materials of thought and imagination are scattered 
profusely around us ; the wood, the cliffs, and the 
spring— the flowers, the insects, and the birds — the 
shells, the broken fragments of wreck, and the dis- 
tanft>sail — the sea, the sky, and the opposite land — 
are all tones of the great instrument, Nature, which 
need only to be awakened by the mind to yield 
its sweet music. And now we have reached the 
cave. 

The Dropping Cave ninety years ago was a place 
of considerable interest ; but the continuous shower 
which converted into stone the plants and mosses on 
which it fell, and the dark recess which no one had 
attempted to penetrate, and of whose extent imagina- 
tion had formed a thousand surmises, constituted 
some of merely the minor circumstances that had 



122 Weird Tales. 

rendered it such. Superstition had busied herself for 
ages before in making it a scene of wonders. Boat 
men, when sailing along the shore in the night-time, 
had been startled by the apparition of a faint blue 
light, which seemed glimmering from its entrance : 
* * * the mermaid had been seen sitting on 
a rock a few yards before it, singing a low melancholy 
song, and combing her long yellow hair with her 
fingers ; and a man who had been engaged in fishing 
crabs among the rocks, and was returning late in the 
evening by the way of the cave, almost shared the 
fate of its moss and lichens, when, on looking up, he 
saw an old grey-headed man, with a beard that 
descended to his girdle, sitting in the opening, and 
gazing wistfully on the sea. 

I find some of these circumstances of terror em- 
bodied in verse by the provincial poet whom I have 
quoted in an early chapter as an authority regarding 
the Cromarty tradition of Wallace ; and now, as then, 
I will avail myself of his description : — 

" When round the lonely shore 
The vex'd waves toil'd with deaf ning roar, 
And Midnight, from her lazy wain, 
Heard wild winds roar and tides complain, 
And groaning woods and shrieking sprites ; — 
Strange sounds from thence, and fearful lights, 
Had caught the sailor's ear and eye, 
As drove his storm-press'd vessel by. 

More fearful still, Tradition told 
Of that dread cave a story old — 
So very old, ages had pass'd 
Since he who made had told it last. 
'Twas thus it ran : — Of strange array 
An aged man, whose locks of gray, 



Legend of the Dropping Well. 123 

Like hill stream, flow'd his shoulders o'er, 
For three long days on that lone shore 
Sat moveless as the rocks around, 
Moaning in low unearthly sound ; 
But whence he came, or why he stay'd, 
None knew, and none to ask essay'd. 
At length a lad drew near and spoke, 
Craving reply. The figure shook 
Like mirror 'd shape on dimpling brook, 
Or shadow flung on eddying smoke — 
And tjie boy fled. The third day pass'd — 
Fierce howl'd at night the angry blast 
Brushing the waves ; wild shrieks of death 
Were heard these bristling cliffs beneath, 
And cries for aid. The morning light 
Gleam'd on a scene of wild affright. 
Where yawns the cave, the rugged shore 
With many a corse lay cover'd o'er, 
And many a gorgeous fragment show'd 
How fair the bark the storm subdued." 

There was a Cromarty mechanic of the last age, 
named Willie Millar, who used to relate a wonderful 
adventure which befell him in the cave. Willie was 
a man of fertile invention, fond of a good story, and 
zealous in the improvement of bad ones ; but his zeal 
was evil spoken of — the reformations he effected in 
this way being regarded as little better than sinful, 
and his finest inventions as downright lying. There 
was a smithy in the place, which, when he had 
become old and useless, was his favourite resort. 
He would take up his seat on the forge each evening, 
regularly as the evening came, and relate to a group 
of delighted but too incredulous youngsters, some 
new passage in his wonderful autobiography ; which, 
though it seemed long enough to stretch beyond the 



124 



Weird Tales, 



flood, received new accessions every night. So little, 
indeed, had he in common with the small-minded 
class who, possessed of only a limited number of 
narratives and ideas, go over and over these as the 
hands of a clock pass continually over the same 
figures, that, with but one exception in favour of the 
adventure of the cave, he hardly ever told the same 
story twice. 

There was a tradition current in Cromarty, that a 
townsman had once passed through the Dropping 
Cave, until he heard a pair of tongs rattle over his 
head on the hearth of a farmhouse of Navity, a 
district of the parish which lies fully three miles from 
the opening ; and Willie, who was, it seems, as hard 
of belief in such matters as if he himself had never 
drawn on the credulity of others, resolved on testing 
the story by exploring the cave. He sewed sprigs of 
rowan and wych-elm in the hem of his waistcoat, 
thrust a Bible into one pocket and a bottle of gin 
into the other, and providing himself with a torch, 
and a staff of buckthorn which had been cut at the 
full of the moon, and dressed without the assistance 
of iron or steel, he set out for the cave on a morning 
of midsummer. It was evening ere he returned — his 
torch burnt out, and his clothes stained with mould 
and slime, and soaked with water. 

After lighting the torch, he said, and taking a firm 
grasp of the staff, he plunged fearlessly into the gloom 
before him. The cavern narrowed and lowered as 
he proceeded ; the floor, which was of a white stone 
resembling marble, was hollowed into cisterns, filled 
with a water so exceedingly pure that it sparkled to 



Legend of the Dropping Well. 125 

the light like spirits in crystal, and from the roof 
there depended clusters of richly embossed icicles of 
white stone, like those which, during a severe frost, 
hang at the edge of a waterfall. The springs from 
above trickled along their channelled sides, and then 
tinkled into the cisterns, like rain from the eaves of 
a cottage after a thunder-shower. Perhaps he looked 
too curiously around him when remarking all this ; 
for so it wa§, that at the ninth and last cistern he 
missed his footing, and, falling forwards shattered his 
bottle of gin against the side of the cave. The liquor 
ran into a little hollow of the marble, and, unwilling 
to lose what he regarded as very valuable, and what 
certainly had cost him some trouble and suffering to 
procure (for he had rowed half way across the Firth 
for it in terror of the customhouse and a cockling sea), 
he stooped down and drank till his breath failed him. 
Never was there better Nantz ; and, pausing to 
recover himself, he stooped and drank, again and 
again. There were strange appearances when he 
rose. A circular rainbow had formed round his 
torch ; there was a blue mist gathering in the hollows 
of the cave ; the very roof and sides began to heave 
and reel, as if the living rock were a Flushing lugger 
riding on the ground-swell ; and there was a low 
humming noise that came sounding from the interior, 
like that of bees in a hawthorn thicket on an evening 
of midsummer. Willie, however, had become much 
less timorous than at first, and, though he could not 
well account for the fact, much less disposed to 
wonder. And so on he went. 

He found the cavern widen, and the roof rose so 



126 



Weird Tales. 



high that the light reached only the snowy icicles 
which hung meteor-like over his head. The walls 
were formed of white stone, ridged and furrowed like 
pieces of drapery, and all before and around him 
there sparkled myriads of crystals, like dewdrops in 
a spring morning. The sound of his footsteps was 
echoed on either hand by a multitude of openings, in 
which the momentary gleam of his torch was reflected, 
as he passed, on sheets of water and ribs of rock, and 
which led, like so many arched corridors, still deeper 
into the bowels of the hill. Nor, independently of 
the continuous humming noise, were all the sounds of 
the cave those of echo. At one time he could hear 
the wind moaning through the trees of the wood 
above, and the scream of a hawk as if pouncing on 
its prey ; then there was the deafening blast of a 
smith's bellows, and the clang of hammers on an 
anvil ; and anon a deep hollow noise resembling the 
growling of a wild beast. All seemed terribly wild 
and unnatural ; a breeze came moaning along the 
cave, and shook the marble drapery of the sides, as if 
it were formed of gauze or linen ; the entire cave 
seemed turning round like the cylinder of an engine, 
till the floor stood upright and the adventurer fell 
heavily against it ; and as the torch hissed and 
sputtered in the water, he could see by its expiring 
gleam that a full score of dark figures, as undefined 
as shadows by moonlight, were flitting around him in 
the blue mist which now came rolling in dense clouds 
from the interior. In a moment more all was dark- 
ness, and he lay insensible amid the chill damps of 
the cave. 



Legend of the Dropping Well. 127 

The rest of the adventure wonderfully resembled a 
dream. On returning to consciousness, he found that 
the gloom around him had given place to a dim red 
twilight, which flickered along the sides and roof like 
the reflection of a distant fire. He rose, and grasp- 
ing his staff staggered forward. "It is sunlight," 
thought he, "I shall find an opening among the 
rocks of Eathie, and return home over the hill." 
Instead, however, of the expected outlet, he found 
the passage terminate in a wonderful apartment, so 
vast in extent, that though an immense fire of pine- 
trees, whole and unbroken from root to branch, threw 
up a red wavering sheet of flame many yards in 
height, he could see in some places neither the walls 
nor the roof. A cataract, like that of Foyers during 
the long-continued rains of an open winter, descended 
in thunder from one of the sides, and presenting its 
broad undulating front of foam to the red gleam of 
the fire, again escaped into darkness through a wide 
broken-edged gulf at the bottom. The floor of the 
apartment appeared to be thickly strewed with human 
bones, half-burned and blood-stained, and gnawed as 
if by cannibals ; and directly in front of the fire there 
was a low tomb-like erection of dark-coloured stone, 
full twenty yards in length, and roughened with 
grotesque hieroglyphics, like those of a Runic obelisk. 
An enormous mace of iron, crusted with rust and 
blood, reclined against the upper end ; while a bugle 
of gold hung by a chain of the same metal from a 
column at the bottom. Willie seized the bugle, and 
winded a blast till the wide apartment shook with 
the din ; the waters of the cataract disappeared, as if 



128 



Weird Tales. 



arrested at their source ; and the ponderous cover of 
the tomb began to heave and crackle, and pass slowly 
over the edge, as if assailed by the terrific strength 
of some newly-awakened giant below. Willie again 
winded the bugle ; the cover heaved upwards, dis- 
closing a corner of the chasm beneath ; and a hand 
covered with blood, and of such fearful magnitude as 
to resemble only the conceptions of Egyptian sculp- 
ture, was slowly stretched from the darkness towards 
the handle of the mace. Willie's resolution gave way, 
and, flinging down the horn, he rushed hurriedly 
towards the passage. A yell of blended grief and 
indignation burst from the tomb, as the immense 
cover again settled over it ; the cataract came dashing 
from its precipice with a heavier volume than before ; 
and a furious hurricane of mingled wind and spray 
that rushed howling from the interior, well-nigh 
dashed the adventurer against the sides of the rock. 
He succeeded, however, in gaining the passage, sick 
at heart and nearly petrified with terror ; a state of 
imperfect consciousness succeeded, like that of a 
feverish dream, in which he retained a sort of half 
conviction that he was lingering in the damps and 
darkness of the cave, obstinately and yet unwillingly; 
and, on fully regaining his recollection, he found him- 
self lying across the ninth cistern, with the fragments 
of the broken bottle on the one side, and his buck- 
thorn staff on the other. He could hear from the 
opening the dash of the advancing waves against the 
rocks, and on leaping to the beach below, found that 
his exploratory journey had occupied him a whole 
day. 



Legend of the Dropping Well. 129 



The adventure of Willie Millar formed at one time 
one of the most popular traditions of Cromarty. It 
was current among the children not more than eighteen 
years ago, when the cave was explored a second time, 
but with a very different result, by a boy of the school 
in which the writer of these legends had the mis- 
fortune of being regarded as the greatest dunce and 
truant of his time. The character of Willie forms 
the best possible commentary on his story — the 
character of the boy may perhaps throw some little 
light on his. When in his twelfth year, he was by 
far the most inquisitive little fellow in the place. 
His curiosity was insatiable. He had broken his 
toys when a child, that he might see how they were 
constructed ; and a watch which the owner had 
thoughtlessly placed within his reach, narrowly escaped 
sharing a similar fate. He dissected frogs and mice 
in the hope of discovering the seat of life ; and when 
one day found dibbling at the edge of a spring, he 
said he was trying to penetrate to the source of water. 
His schoolmaster nicknamed him "The Senachie" 
for the stories with which he beguiled his class-fellows 
of their tasks were without end or number ; the 
neighbours called him Philosopher, for he could point 
out the star of the pole, with the Great Bear that 
continually walks round it ; and he used to affirm 
that there might be people in the moon, and that the 
huge earth is only a planet. Having heard the legend 
of Willie Millar, he set out one day to explore the 
cave ; and when he returned he had to tell that the 
legend was a mere legend, and that the cave, though 
not without its wonders, owed, like the great ones of 
5 1 



130 



Weird Tales. 



the earth, much of its celebrity to the fears and the 
ignorance of mankind. 

In climbing into the vestibule of the recess, his 
eye was attracted by a piece of beautiful lacework, 
gemmed by the damps of the place, and that stretched 
over a hollow in one of the sides. It was not, how- 
ever, a work of magic, but merely the web of a field- 
spider, that from its acquaintance with lines and 
angles, seemed to have discovered a royal road to 
geometry. The petrifying spring next attracted his 
notice. He saw the mosses hardening into limestone 
— the stems already congealed, and the upper shoots 
dying that they might become immortal. And there 
came into his mind the story of one Niobe, of whom 
he had read in a school-book, that, like the springs 
of the cave, wept herself into stone ; and the story, 
too, of the half-man half-marble prince of the Arabian 
tale. " Strange," thought the boy, " that these puny 
dwarfs of the vegetable kingdom should become rock 
and abide for ever, when its very giants, the chestnut 
trees of Etna and the cedars of Lebanon, moulder 
away in the deep solitude of their forests, and become 
dust or nothing." Lighting his torch, he proceeded 
to examine the cavern. A few paces brought him to 
the first cistern. He found the white table of marble 
in which it is hollowed raised knee-height over the 
floor, and the surface fretted into little cavities by the 
continual dropping, like the surface of a thawing 
snow-wreath when beaten by a heavy shower. As 
he strided over the ledge, a drop from above extin- 
guished his torch ; — he groped his way back and 
rekindled it. He had seen the first cistern described 



Legend of the Dropping Well, 131 

by the adventurer ; and of course all the others, with 
the immense apartment, the cataract, the tomb, the 
iron mace, and the golden bugle, lay in the darkness 
beyond. But, alas ! when he again stepped forward, 
instead of the eight other hollows he found the floor 
covered with one continuous pool, over which there 
rose fast- contracting walls and a descending roof; 
and though he pressed onward amid the water that 
splashed below; and the water that fell from above, — 
for his curiosity was unquenchable, and his clothes of 
a kind which could not be made worse, — it was only 
to find the rock closing hopelessly before him, after 
his shoulders had at once pressed against the opposite 
sides, and the icicles had passed through his hair. 
There was no possibility of turning round, and so, 
creeping backwards like a crab, he reached the first 
cistern, and in a moment after stood in the lighted 
part of the cave. His feelings on the occasion were 
less melancholy than those of the traveller who, 
when standing beside the two fountains of the Nile, 
" began in his sorrow to treat the inquiry concerning 
its source as the effort of a distempered fancy." But 
next to the pleasure of erecting a system, is the 
pleasure of pulling one down ; and he felt it might be 
so even with regard to a piece of traditionary history. 
Besides, there was a newly-fledged thought which 
had come fluttering round him for the first time, that 
more than half consoled him under his disappoint- 
ment. He remembered that when a child no story 
used to please him that was not both marvellous and 
true, — that a fact was as nothing to him disunited 
from the wonderful, nor the wonderful disunited from 



132 



Weird Tales. 



fact. But the marvels of his childhood had been 
melting away, one after one — the ghost, and the 
wraith, and the fairy had all disappeared ; and the 
wide world seemed to spread out before him a tame 
and barren region, where truth dwelt in the forms of 
commonplace, and in these only. He now felt for 
the first time that it was far otherwise ; and that so 
craving an instinct, instead of perishing for lack of 
sustenance, would be fed as abundantly in the future 
by philosophy and the arts, as it had been in the past 
by active imaginations and a superstitious credulity. 

The path which, immediately after losing itself on 
the beach where it passes the cave, rises by a kind of 
natural stair to the top of the precipices, continues 
to ascend till it reaches a spring of limpid water, 
which comes gushing out of the side of a bank covered 
with moss and daisies, and which for more than a 
century has been known to the townspeople by the 
name of Fiddler's Well. Its waters are said to be 
medicinal, and there is a pretty tradition still extant 
of the circumstance through which their virtues were 
first discovered, and to which the spring owes its 
name. 

Two young men of the place, who were much 
attached to each other, were seized at nearly the same 
time by consumption. In one the progress of the 
disease was rapid — he died two short months after he 
was attacked by it ; while the other, though wasted 
almost to a shadow, had yet strength enough left to 
follow the corpse of his companion to the grave. 
The name of the survivor was Fiddler — a name still 
common among the seafaring men of the town. On 



Legend of the Dropping Well. 133 

the evening of the interment he felt oppressed and 
unhappy ; his imagination was haunted by a thousand 
feverish shapes of open graves with bones mouldering 
round their edges, and of coffins with the lids dis- 
placed ; and after he had fallen asleep, the images, 
which were still the same, became more ghastly and 
horrible. Towards morning, however, they had all 
vanished ; and he dreamed that he was walking alone 
by the sea-shore in a clear and beautiful day of 
summer. Suddenly, as he thought, some person 
stepped up behind, and whispered in his ear, in the 
voice of his deceased companion, " Go on, Willie; I 
shall meet you at Stormy." There is a rock in the 
neighbourhood of Fiddler's Well, so called, from the 
violence with which the sea beats against it when 
the wind blows strongly from the east. On hearing 
the voice he turned round, and seeing no one, he 
went on, as he thought, to the place named, in the 
hope of meeting his friend, and sat down on a bank 
to wait his coming ; but he waited long — lonely and 
dejected ; and then remembering that he for whom 
he waited was dead, he burst into tears. At this 
moment a large field-bee came humming from the 
west, and began to fly round his head. He raised 
his hand to brush it away ; it widened its circle, and 
then came humming into his ear as before. He 
raised his hand a second time, but the bee would not 
be scared off ; it hummed ceaselessly round and round 
him, until at length its murmurings seemed to be 
fashioned into words, articulated in the voice of his 
deceased companion. " Dig, Willie, and drink ! " 
it said ; " Dig, Willie, and drink ! " He accordingly 



134 



Weird Tales. 



set himself to dig, and no sooner had he torn a sod 
out of the bank than a spring of clear water gushed 
from the hollow ; and the bee taking a wider circle, 
and humming in a voice of triumph that seemed to 
emulate the sound of a distant trumpet, flew away. 
He looked after it, but as he looked the images of 
his dream began to mingle with those of the waking 
world ; the scenery of the hill seemed obscured by a 
dark cloud, in the centre of which there glimmered a 
faint light ; the rocks, the sea, the long declivity, 
faded into the cloud ; and turning round he saw only 
a dark apartment, and the faint beams of morning 
shining in at a window. He rose, and after digging 
the well, drank of the water and recovered. And its 
virtues are still celebrated ; for though the water be 
only simple water, it must be drunk in the morning, 
and as it gushes from the bank ; and with pure air, 
exercise, and early rising for its auxiliaries, it con- 
tinues to work cures. 



WANDERING WILLIE'S TALE. 

By Sir Walter Scott. 

Ye maun have heard of Sir Robert Redgauntlet, of 
that Ilk, who lived in these parts before the dear 
years. The country will lang mind him ; and our 
fathers used to draw breath thick if ever they heard 
him named. He was out wi' the Hielandmen in 
Montrose's time ; and again he has in the hills wi' 
Glencairn in the saxteen hundred and fifty-twa ; and 
sae when King Charles the Second came in, wha was 
in sic favour as the Laird of Redgauntlet ? He was 
knighted at Lonon court, wi' the King's ain sword ; 
and being a red-hot prelatist, he came down here, 
rampauging like a lion, with commissions of lieuten- 
ancy (and of lunacy, for what I ken), to put down a' 
the Whigs and Covenanters in the country. Wild 
wark they made of it ; for the Whigs were as dour as 
the Cavaliers were fierce, and it was which should first 
tire the other. Redgauntlet was aye for the strong 
hand ; and his name is kend as wide in the country 
as Claverhouse's or Tarn DalyelPs. Glen, nor dargle, 
nor mountain, nor cave, could hide the puir hill-folk 
when Redgauntlet was out with bugle and blood- 
hound after them, as if they had been sae mony deer. 
And troth when they fand them, they didna mak 
muckle mair ceremony than a Hielandman wi' a 
roebuck. It was just, " Will ye tak the test?"— if 
135 



136 



Weird Tales. 



not, " Make ready — present — fire ! " and there lay 
the recusant. 

Far and wide was Sir Robert hated and feared. 
Men thought he had a direct compact with Satan — 
that he was proof against steel — and that bullets 
happed aff his buff- coat like hailstanes from a hearth 
— that he had a mear that would turn a hare on the 
side of Carrifragawns — and muckle to the same 
purpose, of whilk mair anon. The best blessing they 
wared on him was, " Deil scowp wi' Redgauntlet ! " 
He wasna a bad maister to his ain folk though, and 
was weel aneugh liked by his tenants ; and as for the 
lackies and troopers that raid out wi' him to the 
persecutions, as the Whigs caa'd those killing times, 
they wad hae drunken themsells blind to his health 
at ony time. 

Now you are to ken that my gudesire lived on 
Redgauntlet 's grund — they ca' the place Primrose- 
Knowe. We had lived on the grund, and under the 
Redgauntlets, since the riding days, and lang before. 
It was a pleasant bit ; and I think the air is callerer 
and fresher there than ony where else in the country. 
It's a' deserted now ; and I sat on the broken door- 
cheek three days since, and was glad I couldna see 
the plight the place was in ; but that's a' wide o' the 
mark. There dwelt my gudesire, Steenie Steenson, 
a rambling, rattling chiel he had been in his young 
days, and could play weel on the pipes ; he was 
famous at " Hoopers and Girders" — a' Cumberland 
couldna touch him at " Jockie Lattin " — and he had 
the finest finger for the back-lilt between Berwick 
and Carlisle. The like o' Steenie wasna the sort that 



Wandering Willie's Tale. 137 

they made Whigs o\ And so he became a Tory, as 
they ca' it, which we now ca' Jacobites, just out of a 
kind of needcessity, that he might belang to some 
side or other. He had nae ill-will to the Whig 
bodies, and liked little to see the blude rin, though, 
being obliged to follow Sir Robert in hunting and 
hosting, watching and warding, he saw muckle mis- 
chief, and maybe did some, that he couldna avoid. 

Now Steenie was a kind of favourite with his 
master, and kend a' the folks about the castle, and 
was often sent for to play the pipes when they were 
at their merriment. Auld Dugald MacCallum, the 
butler, that had followed Sir Robert through gude 
and ill, thick and thin, pool and stream, was specially 
fond of the pipes, and aye gae my gudesire his gude 
word wi' the Laird ; for Dougal could turn his master 
round his finger. 

Weel, round came the Revolution, and it had like 
to have broken the hearts baith of Dougal and his 
master. But the change was not a'thegither sae great 
as they feared, and other folk thought for. The 
W T higs made an unco crawing what they wad do with 
their auld enemies, and in especial wi' Sir Robert 
Redgauntlet. But there were ower mony great folks 
dipped in the same doings, to mak a spick and span 
new warld. So Parliament passed it a' ower easy ; 
and Sir Robert, bating that he was held to hunting 
foxes instead of Covenanters, remained just the man 
he was. His revel was as loud, and his hall as weel 
lighted, as ever it had been, though maybe he lacked 
the fines of the Nonconformists, that used to come to 
stock his larder and cellar ; for it is certain he began 



138 Weird Tales. 

to be keener about the rents than his tenants used to 
find him before, and they behoved to be prompt to 
the rent-day, or else the Laird wasna pleased. And 
he was sic an awsome body, that naebody cared to 
anger him ; for the oaths he swore, and the rage that 
he used to get into, and the looks that he put on, 
made men sometimes think him a devil incarnate. 

Weel, my gudesire was nae manager — no that he 
was a very great misguider — but he hadna the saving 
gift, and he got twa terms' rent in arrear. He got 
the first brash at Whitsunday put ower wi' fair word 
and piping ; but when Martinmas came, there was a 
summons from the grund officer to come wi' the rent 
on a day preceese, or else Steenie behoved to flit. 
Sair wark he had to get the siller ; but he was weel- 
freended, and at last he got the haill scraped thegither 
— a thousand merks — the maist of it was from a 
neighbour they caa'd Laurie Lapraik — a sly tod. 
Laurie had walth o' gear — could hunt wi' the hound 
and rin wi' the hare — and be Whig or Tory, saunt or 
sinner, as the wind stood. He was a professor in his 
Revolution warld, but he liked an orra sough of this 
world, and a tune on the pipes weel eneugh at a 
bytime ; and abune a', he thought he had gude security 
for the siller he lent my gudesire ower the stocking at 
Primrose- Knowe. 

Away trots my gudesire to Redgauntlet Castle, wi' 
a heavy purse and a light heart, glad to be out of the 
Laird's danger. Weel, the first thing he learned at 
the castle was, that Sir Robert had fretted himself 
into a fit of the gout, because he did not appear before 
twelve o'clock. It wasna a'thegither for the sake of 



Wandering Willies Tale. 139 

the money, Dougal thought ; but because he didna 
like to part wi' my gudesire aff the grund. Dougal 
was glad to see Steenie, and brought him into the 
great oak parlour, and there sat the Laird his leesome 
lane, excepting that he had beside him a great, ill- 
favoured jackanape, that was a special pet of his ; a 
cankered beast it was, and mony an ill-natured trick 
it played — ill to please it was, and easily angered— 
ran about the haill castle, chattering and yowling, and 
pinching and biting folk, especially before ill weather, 
or disturbances in the State. Sir Robert caa'd it 
Major Weir, after the warlock that was burnt ; and 
few folk liked either the name or the conditions of the 
creature — they thought there was something in it by 
ordinar — and my gudesire was not just easy in his 
mind when the door shut on him, and he saw himself 
in the room wi' naebody but the Laird, Dougal 
MacCallum, and the Major, a thing that hadna chanced 
to him before. 

Sir Robert sat, or, I should say, lay in a great 
armed chair, wi' his grand velvet gown, and his feet 
on a cradle ; for he had baith gout and gravel, and 
his face looked as gash and ghastly as Satan's. Major 
Weir sat opposite to him, in a red laced coat, and the 
Laird's wig on his head ; and aye as Sir Robert 
girned wi' pain, the jackanape girned too, like a sheep's 
head between a pair of tangs — an ill-faured, fearsome 
couple they were. The Laird's buff coat was hung on 
a pin behind him, and his broad-sword and his pistols 
within reach ; for he keepit up the auld fashion of 
having the weapons ready, and a horse saddled day 
and night, just as he used to do when he was able to 



140 



Weird Tales. 



loup on horseback, and away after ony of the hill-folk 
he could get speerings of. Some said it was for fear 
of the Whigs taking vengeance, but I judge it was 
just his auld custom — he wasna gien to fear onything. 
The rental - book, wi' its black cover and brass 
clasps, was lying beside him ; and a book of scul- 
duddery sangs was put betwixt the leaves, to keep it 
open at the place where it bore evidence against the 
goodman of Primrose-Knowe, as behind the hand with 
his maills and duties. Sir Robert gave my gudesire a 
look, as if he would have withered his heart in his 
bosom. Ye maun ken he had a way of bending his 
brows, that men saw the visible mark of a horse-shoe 
in his forehead, deep-dinted, as if it had been stamped 
there. 

" Are ye come light-handed, ye son of a toom 
whistle ? " said Sir Robert. " Zounds ! if you are " — 

My gudesire, with as gude a countenance as he 
could put on, made a leg, and placed the bag of 
money on the table wi* a dash, like a man that does 
something clever. The Laird drew it to him hastily 
— " Is it all here, Steenie, man ? " 

" Your honour will find it right," said my gudesire. 

"Here, Dougal," said the Laird, " gie Steenie a 
tass of brandy down-stairs, till I count the siller and 
write the receipt." 

But they werena weel out of the room, when Sir 
Robert gied a yelloch that garr'd the Castle rock ! 
Back ran Dougal — in flew the livery-men — yell on 
yell gied the Laird, ilk ane mair awfu' than the ither. 
My gudesire knew not whether to stand or flee, but 
he ventured back into the parlour, where a' was gaun 



Wandering Willie's Tale. 141 

hirdy-girdy — naebody to say "come in," or "gae 
out." Terribly the Laird roared for cauld water to 
his feet, and wine to cool his throat ; and hell, hell, 
hell, and its flames, was aye the word in his mouth. 
They brought him water, and when they plunged his 
swoln feet into the tub, he cried out it was burning. 
And folk say that it did bubble and sparkle like a 
seething cauldron. He flung the cup at Dougal's 
head, and said 'he had given him blood instead of 
burgundy ; and, sure aneugh, the lass washed clotted 
blood aff the carpet the neist day. The jackanape 
they caa'd Major Weir, it jibbered and cried as if it 
was mocking its master ; my gudesire's head was like 
to turn — he forgot baith siller and receipt, and down- 
stairs he banged ; but as he ran, the shrieks came 
faint and fainter. There was a deep-drawn shivering 
groan, and word gaed through the Castle that the 
Laird was dead. 

Weel, away came my gudesire, wi' his finger in his 
mouth, and his best hope was, that Dougal had seen 
the money-bag, and heard the Laird speak of writing 
the receipt. The young Laird, now Sir John, came 
from Edinburgh, to see things put to rights. Sir 
John and his father never gree'd weel. Sir John had 
been bred an advocate, and afterwards sat in the last 
Scots Parliament and voted for the Union, having 
gotten, it was thought, a rug of the compensations — 
if his father could have come out of his grave, he 
would have brained him for it on his awn hearthstane. 
Some thought it was easier counting with the auld 
rough Knight than the fair-spoken young ane — but 
mair of that anon. 



142 



Weird Tales. 



Dougal MacCallum, poor body, neither grat nor 
graned, but gaed about the house looking like a 
corpse, but directing, as was his duty, a' the order of 
the grand funeral. Now, Dougal looked aye waur 
and waur when night was coming, and was aye the 
last to gang to his bed, whilk was in a little round 
just opposite the chamber of dias, whilk his master 
occupied while he was living, and where he now lay in 
state, as they caa'd it, weel-a-day ! The night before 
the funeral, Dougal could keep his own counsel nae 
langer ; he came doun with his proud spirit, and 
fairly asked auld Hutcheon to sit in his room with 
him for an hour. When they were in the round, 
Dougal took ae tass of brandy to himsell, and gave 
another to Hutcheon, and wished him all health and 
lang life, and said that, for himsell, he wasna lang for 
this world ; for that, every night since Sir Robert's 
death, his silver call had sounded from the state 
chamber, just as it used to do at nights in his lifetime, 
to call Dougal to help to turn him in his bed. Dougal 
said, that being alone with the dead on that floor of 
the tower (for naebody cared to wake Sir Robert Red- 
gauntlet like another corpse), he had never daured to 
answer the call, but that now his conscience checked 
him for neglecting his duty; for, "though death 
breaks service," said MacCallum, " it shall never 
break my service to Sir Robert ; and I will answer 
his next whistle, so be you will stand by me, 
Hutcheon. " 

Hutcheon had nae will to the wark, but he had 
stood by Dougal in battle and broil, and he wad not 
fail him at this pinch ; so down the carles sat ower a 



Wandering Willie's Tale. 143 



stoup of brandy, and Hutcheon, who was something 
of a clerk, would have read a chapter of the Bible ; 
but Dougal would hear naething but a blaud of 
Davie Lindsay, whilk was the waur preparation. 

When midnight came, and the house was quiet 
as the grave, sure aneugh the silver whistle sounded 
as sharp and shrill as if Sir Robert was blowing it, 
and up gat the twa auld. serving-men, and tottered 
into the room* where the dead man lay. Hutcheon 
saw aneuch at the first glance ; for there were torches 
in the room, which showed him the foul fiend in his 
ain shape, sitting on the Laird's coffin ! Over he 
cowped, as if he had been dead. He could not tell 
how lang he lay in a trance at the door, but when he 
gathered himself, he cried on his neighbour, and 
getting nae answer, raised the house, when Dougal 
was found lying dead within twa steps of the bed 
where his master's coffin was placed. As for the 
whistle, it was gaen anes and aye ; but mony a time 
was it heard at the top of the house on the bartizan, 
and amang the auld chimneys and turrets, where the 
howlets have their nests. Sir John hushed the matter 
up, and the funeral passed over without mair bogle- 
wark. 

But when a' was ower, and the Laird was begin- 
ning to settle his affairs, every tenant was called up 
for his arrears, and my gudesire for the full sum that 
stood against him in the rental-book. Weel, away 
he trots to the Castle, to tell his story, d.nd there he 
is introduced to Sir John, sitting in his father's chair, 
in deep mourning, with weepers and hanging cravat, 
and a small walking rapier by his side, instead of the 



144 



Weird Tales. 



auld broad-sword that had a hundredweight of steel 
about it, what with blade, chape, and basket-hilt. I 
have heard their communing so often tauld ower, 
that I almost think I was there mysell, though I 
couldna be born at the time, (in fact, Alan, my 
companion mimicked with a good deal of humour, 
the flattering, conciliating tone of the tenant's address, 
and the hypocritical melancholy of the Laird's reply. 
His grandfather, he said, had, while he spoke, his 
eye fixed on the rental-book, as if it were a mastiff- 
dog that he was afraid would spring up and bite him.) 

" I wuss ye joy, sir, of the head seat, and the white 
loaf, and the braid lairdship. Your father was a kind 
man to friends and followers ; muckle grace to you, 
Sir John, to fill his shoon — his boots, I suld say, for 
he seldom wore shoon, unless it were muils when he 
had the gout." 

"Ay, Steenie," quoth the Laird, sighing deeply, 
and putting his napkin to his een, "his was a sudden 
call, and he will be missed in the country ; no time 
to set his house in order — weel prepared Godward, 
no doubt, which is the root of the matter — but left us 
behind a tangled hesp to wind, Steenie. — Hem ! 
hem ! We maun go to business, Steenie ; much to 
do, and little time to do it in." 

Here he opened the fatal volume. I have heard 
of a thing they call Doomsday-book — I am clear it 
has been a rental of back -ganging tenants. 

" Stephen," said Sir John, still in the same soft, 
sleekit tone of voice — "Stephen Stevenson, or Steen- 
son, ye are down here for a year's rent behind the 
hand — due at last term. " 



Wandering Willie's Tale. 145 

Stephen. " Please yer honour, Sir John, I paid it 
to your father." 

Sir John. "Ye took a receipt then, doubtless, 
Stephen ; and can produce it?" 

Stephen. " Indeed I hadna time, an it like your 
honour ; for nae sooner had I set doun the siller, and 
just as his honour Sir Robert, that's gaen, drew it till 
him to count it, and write out the receipt, he was 
ta'en wi' the pains that removed him." 

"That was unlucky," said Sir John, after a pause, 
"but ye maybe paid it in the presence of somebody. 
I want but a talis qualis evidence, Stephen. I would 
go ower strictly to work with no poor man." 

Stephen. "Troth, Sir John, there was naebody in 
the room but Dougal MacCallum, the butler. But, 
as your honour kens, he has e'en followed his auld 
master." 

"Very unlucky again, Stephen," said Sir John, 
without altering his voice a single note. "The man 
to whom ye paid the money is dead — and the man 
who witnessed the payment is dead too — and the 
siller, which should have been to the fore, is neither 
seen nor heard tell of in the repositories. How am I 
to believe a' this ? " 

Stephen. " I dinna ken, yer honour ; but there is 
a bit memorandum note of the very coins ; for, God 
help me ! I had to borrow out of twenty purses ; and 
I am sure that ilka man there set down will take his 
grit oath for what purpose I borrowed the money." 

Sir John. " I have little doubt ye borrowed the 
money, Steenie. It is the payment to my father that 
I want to have some proof of." 

S K 



146 



Weird Tales. 



Stephen. "The siller maun be about the house, Sir 
John. And since yer honour never got it, and his 
honour that was canna have ta'en it wi' him, maybe 
some of the family may have seen it." 

Sir John. " We will examine the servants, Stephen ; 
that is but reasonable. " 

But lackey and lass, and page and groom, all 
denied stoutly that they had ever seen such a bag of 
money as my gudesire described. What was waur, 
he had unluckily not mentioned to any living soul of 
them his purpose of paying his rent. Ae quean had 
noticed something under his arm, but she took it for 
the pipes. 

Sir John Redgauntlet ordered the servants out of 
the room, and then said to my gudesire, " Now, 
Steenie, ye see ye have fair play ; and, as I have little 
doubt ye ken better where to find the siller than ony 
other body, I beg, in fair terms, and for your own 
sake, that you will end this fasherie ; for Stephen, ye 
maun pay or flit." 

"The Lord forgie your opinion," said Stephen, 
driven almost to his wit's end — " I am an honest 
man." 

"So am I, Stephen," said his honour; "and so 
are all the folks in the house, I hope. But if there 
be a knave amongst us, it must be he that tells the 
story he cannot prove." He paused, and then added 
mair sternly, " If I understand your trick, sir, you 
want to take advantage of some malicious reports 
concerning things in this family, and particularly 
respecting my father's sudden death, thereby to cheat 
me out of the money, and perhaps take away my 



Wandering Willie's Tale. 147 

character, by insinuating that I have received the rent 
I am demanding. Where do you suppose this money 
to be? I insist upon knowing." 

My gudesire saw everything look sae muckle against 
him that he grew nearly desperate ; however, he 
shifted from one foot to another, looked to every 
corner of the room, and made no answer. 

''Speak out, sirrah," said the Laird, assuming a 
look of his father's, a very particular ane, which he 
had when he was angry ; it seemed as if the wrinkles 
of his frown made that selfsame fearful shape of a 
horse's shoe in the middle of his brow ; — " Speak out, 
sir ! I will know your thoughts ; — do you suppose 
that I have this money ? " 

" Far be it frae me to say so," said Stephen. 

"Do you charge any of my people with having 
taken it ? " 

"I wad be laith to charge them that may be inno- 
cent," said my gudesire; "and if there be any one 
that is guilty, I have nae proof." 

" Somewhere the money must be, if there is a word 
of truth in your story," said Sir John ; "I ask where 
you think it is — and demand a correct answer ? " 

" In hell, if you will have my thoughts of it," said 
my gudesire, driven to extremity, — "in hell! with 
your father, his jackanape, and his silver whistle." 

Down the stairs he ran (for the parlour was nae 
place for him after such a word), and he heard the 
Laird swearing blood and wounds behind him, as fast 
as ever did Sir Robert, and roaring for the bailie and 
the baron-officer. 

Away rode my gudesire to his chief creditor (him 



148 



Weird Tales. 



they caa'd Laurie Lapraik), to try if he could make 
onything out of him ; but when he tauld his story, he 
got but the warst word in his wame — thief, beggar, 
and dyvour were the saftest terms ; and to the boot 
of these hard terms, Laurie brought up the auld story 
of his dipping his hand in the blood of God's saunts, 
just as if a tenant could have helped riding with the 
Laird, and that a laird like Sir Robert Redgauntlet. 
My gudesire was by this time far beyond the bounds 
of patience, and while he and Laurie were at deil 
speed the liars, he was wanchancie eneugh to abuse 
Lapraik's doctrine as weel as the man, and said things 
that garr'd folk's flesh grue that heard them ; — he 
wasna just himsell. and he had lived wi' a wild set 
in his day. 

At last they parted, and my gudesire was to ride 
hame through the wood of Pitmurkie, that is a' fou 
of black firs, as they say. I ken the wood, but the 
firs may be black or white for what I can tell. At 
the entry of the wood there is a wild common, and 
on the edge of the common, a little lonely change- 
house, that was keepit then by an ostler-wife, they 
suld hae caa'd her Tibbie Faw, and there puir Steenie 
cried for a mutchkin of brandy, for he had had no 
refreshment the haill day. Tibbie was earnest wi' 
him to take a bite of meat, but he couldna think o't, 
nor would he take his foot out of the stirrup, and 
took off the brandy wholely at twa draughts, and 
named a toast at each : — the first was, the memory 
of Sir Robert Redgauntlet, and might he never lie 
quiet in his grave till he had righted his poor bond- 
tenant ; and the second was, a health to Man's 



Wandering Willie's Tale. 149 

Enemy, if he would but get him back the pock of 
siller, or tell him what came o't, for he saw the haill 
world was like to regard him as a thief and a cheat, 
and he took that waur than even the ruin of his house 
and hauld. 

On he rode, little caring where. It was a dark 
night turned, and the trees made it yet darker, and 
he let the beast take its ain road through the wood ; 
when, all of a sudden, from tired and wearied that 
it was before, the nag began to spring, and flee, and 
stend, that my gudesire could hardly keep the saddle. 
Upon the whilk, a horseman, suddenly riding up 
beside him, said, "That's a mettle beast of yours, 
freend ; will you sell him ? " So saying, he touched 
the horse's neck with his riding-wand, and it fell into 
its auld heigh-ho of a stumbling trot. "But his 
spunk's soon out of him, I think," continued the 
stranger, "and that is like mony a man's courage, 
that thinks he wad do great things till he come to 
the proof. 

My gudesire scarce listened to this, but spurred his 
horse, with " Gude e'en to you, freend." 

But it's like the stranger was ane that doesna 
lightly yield his point ; for, ride as Steenie liked, 
he was aye beside him at the selfsame pace. At last 
my gudesire, Steenie Steenson, grew half angry ; and, 
to say the truth, half feared. 

"What is it that ye want with me, freend?" he 
said, "If ye be a robber, I have nae money; if ye 
be a leal man, wanting company, I have nae heart 
to mirth or speaking ; and if ye want to ken the road, 
I scarce ken it mysell." 



Weird Tales. 



"If you will tell me your grief," said the stranger, 
" I am one that, though I have been sair miscaa'd in 
the world, am the only hand for helping my freends." 

So my gudesire, to ease his ain heart, mair than 
from any hope of help, told him the story from 
beginning to end. 

"It's a hard pinch," said the stranger; "but I 
think I can help you." 

" If you could lend the money, sir, and take a lang 
day — I ken nae other help on earth," said my gude- 
sire. 

" But there may be some under the earth," said the 
stranger. "Come, I'll be frank wi' you; I could 
lend you the money on bond, but you would maybe 
scruple my terms. Now, I can tell you, that your 
auld Laird is disturbed in his grave by your curses, 
and the wailing of your family ; and if you daur 
venture to go to see him, he will give you the 
receipt." 

My gudesire's hair stood on end at this proposal, but 
he thought his companion might be some humorsome 
chield that was trying to frighten him, and might end 
with lending him the money. Besides, he was bauld 
wi' brandy, and desperate wi' distress ; and he said, 
he had courage to go to the gate of hell, and a step 
farther, for that receipt. The stranger laughed. 

Weel, they rode on through the thickest of the 
wood, when, all of a sudden, the horse stopped at 
the door of a great house ; and, but that he knew the 
place was ten miles off, my father would have thought 
he was at Redgauntlet Castle. They rode into the 
outer court yard, through the muckle faulding yetts, 



Wandering Willie's Tale. 151 

and aneath the auld portcullis ; and the whole front 
of the house was lighted, and there were pipes and 
fiddles, and as much dancing and deray within as 
used to be in Sir Robert's house at Pace and Yule, 
and such high seasons. They lap off, and my gude- 
sire, as seemed to him, fastened his horse to the very 
ring he had tied him to that morning, when he gaed 
to wait on the young Sir John. 

" God ! " said my gudesire, " if Sir Robert's death 
be but a dream ! " 

He knocked at the ha' door just as he was wont, 
and his auld acquaintance, Dougal MacCallum, — just 
after his wont too, — came to open the door, and said, 
" Piper Steenie, are ye there, lad ? Sir Robert has 
been crying for you." 

My gudesire was like a man in a dream — he looked 
for the stranger, but he was gane for the time. At 
last he just tried to say, " Ha ! Dougal Driveower, 
are ye living ? I thought ye had been dead." 

"Never fash yoursell wi' me," said Dougal, "but 
look to yoursell ; and see ye tak naething frae ony- 
body here, neither meat, drink, or siller, except just 
the receipt that is your ain." 

So saying, he led the way out through halls and 
trances that were weel kend to my gudesire, and into 
the auld oak parlour ; and there was as much singing 
of profane sangs, and birling of red wine, and speak- 
ing blasphemy and sculduddry, as had ever been in 
Redgauntlet Castle when it was at the blithest. 

But, Lord take us in keeping ! what a set of 
ghastly revellers they were that sat round that table ! 
My gudesire kend mony that had lang before gane to 



Weird Tales. 



their place, for often had he piped to the most part 
in the hall of Redgauntlet* There was the fierce 
Middleton, and the dissolute Rothes, and the crafty 
Lauderdale ; and Dalyell, with his bald head and a 
beard to his girdle ; and Earlshall, with Cameron's 
blude on his hand ; and wild Bonshaw, that tied 
blessed Mr. Cargill's limbs till the blude sprung ; and 
Dumbarton Douglas, the twice- turned traitor baith to 
country and king. There was the Bluidy Advocate 
MacKenyie, who, for his worldly wit and wisdom, 
had been to the rest as a god. And there was 
Claverhouse, as beautiful as when he lived, with 
his long, dark, curled locks, streaming down over 
his laced buff-coat, and his left hand always on his 
right spule-blade, to hide the wound that the silver- 
bullet had made. He sat apart from them all, and 
looked at them with a melancholy, haughty counte- 
nance ; while the rest halloed, and sung, and laughed, 
that the room rang. But their smiles were fearfully 
contorted from time to time ; and their laughter passed 
into such wild sounds, as made my gudesire's very 
nails grow blue, and chilled the marrow in his banes. 

They that waited at the table were just the wicked 
serving-men and troopers, that had done their work 
and cruel bidding on earth. There was the Lang 
Lad of the Nethertown, that helped to take Argyle ; 
and the Bishop's summoner, that they called the 
Deil's Rattle-bag ; and the wicked guardsmen, in 
their laced-coats ; and the savage Highland Amorites, 
that shed blood like water ; and many a proud serv- 
ing - man, haughty of heart and bloody of hand, 
cringing to the rich, and making them wickeder 



Wandering Willie's Tale. 153 



than they would be ; grinding the poor to powder, 
when the rich had broken them to fragments. And 
mony, mony mair were coming and ganging, a' as 
busy in their vocation as if they had been alive. 

Sir Robert Redgauntlet, in the midst of a' this 
fearful riot, cried, wi' a voice like thunder, on Steenie 
Piper, to come to the board-head where he was 
sitting ; his legs stretched out before him, and 
swathed up with flannel, with his holster pistols 
aside him, while the great broad-sword rested against 
his chair, just as my gudesire had seen him the last 
time upon earth — the very cushion for the jackanape 
was close to him, but the creature itsell was not there 
— it wasna its hour, it's likely ; for he heard them say 
as he came forward, " Is not the Major come yet?" 
And another answered, "The jackanape will be 
here betimes the morn." And when my gudesire 
came forward, Sir Robert, or his ghaist, or the deevil 
in his likeness, said, 4< Weel, piper, hae ye settled wi* 
my son for the year's rent ? " 

With much ado my father gat breath to say, that 
Sir John would not settle without his honour's receipt. 

" Ye shall hae that for a tune of the pipes, Steenie," 
said the appearance of Sir Robert. 1 * Play us up, • 
'Weel hoddled, Luckie.'" 

Now this was a tune my gudesire learned from a 
warlock, that heard it when they were worshipping 
Satan at their meetings ; and my gudesire had some- 
times played it at the ranting suppers in Redgauntlet 
Castle, but never very willingly ; and now he grew 
cauld at the very name of it, and said, for excuse, he 
hadna his pipes wi' him. 



iS4 



Weird Tales, 



" MacCallum, ye limb of Beelzebub," said the 
fearfu' Sir Robert, " bring Steenie the pipes that I 
am keeping for him ! " 

MacCallum brought a pair of pipes that might have 
served the piper of Donald of the Isles. But he gave 
my gudesire a nudge as he offered them ; and looking 
secretly and closely, Steenie saw that the chanter was 
of steel, and heated to a white heat ; so he had fair 
warning not to trust his fingers with it. So he 
excused himself again, and said he was faint and 
frightened, and had not wind aneugh to fill the bag. 

c * Then ye maun eat and drink, Steenie," said the 
figure ; "for we do little else here ; and it's ill 
speaking between a fou man and a fasting." 

Now these were the very words that the bloody 
Earl of Douglas said to keep the King's messenger 
in hand, while he cut the head off MacLellan of 
Bombie, at the Threave Castle ; and that put Steenie 
mair and mair on his guard. So he spoke up like a 
man, and said he came neither to eat, or drink, or 
make minstrelsy ; but simply for his ain — to ken what 
was come o' the money he had paid, and to get a 
discharge for it ; and he was so stout-hearted by this 
time, that he charged Sir Robert for conscience- sake 
— (he had no power to say the holy name) — and as he 
hoped for peace and rest, to spread no snares for him, 
but just to give him his ain. 

The appearance gnashed its teeth and laughed, but 
it took from a large pocket-book the receipt, and 
handed it to Steenie. " There is your receipt, ye 
pitiful cur ; and for the money, my dog-whelp of a 
son may go look for it in the Cat's Cradle." 



Wandering Willies Tale. 155 

My gudesire uttered mony thanks, and was about 
to retire, when Sir Robert roared aloud, " Stop, 
though, thou sack-doudling son of a whore ! I am 
not done with thee. Here we do nothing for 
nothing ; and you must return on this very day 
twelvemonth, to pay your master the homage that 
you owe me for my protection." 

My father's tongue was loosed of a suddenty, and 
he said aloud, M I refer mysell to God's pleasure, and 
not to yours." 

He had no sooner uttered the word than all was 
dark around him ; and he sunk on the earth with 
such a sudden shock, that he lost both breath and 
sense. 

How long Steenie lay there, he could not tell ; but 
when he came to himsell, he was lying in the auld 
kirkyard of Redgauntlet parochine, just at the door 
of the family aisle, and the scutcheon of the auld 
knight, Sir Robert, hanging over his head. There 
was a deep morning fog on grass and grave-stane 
around him, and his horse was feeding quietly beside 
the minister's twa cows. Steenie would have thought 
the whole was a dream, but he had the receipt in his 
hand, fairly written and signed by the auld Laird ; 
only the last letters of his name were a little dis- 
orderly, written like one seized with sudden pain. 

Sorely troubled in his mind, he left that dreary 
place, rode through the mist to Redgauntlet Castle, 
and with much ado he got speech of the Laird. 

" Well, you dyvour bankrupt," was the first word, 
"have you brought me my rent ?" 

" No," answered my gudesire, " I have not ; but 



Weird Tales. 



I have brought your honour Sir Robert's receipt 
for it." 

"How, sirrah? — Sir Robert's receipt! — You told 
me he had not given you one. " 

" Will your honour please to see if that bit line is 
right?" 

Sir John looked at every line, and at every letter, 
with much attention ; and at last, at the date, which 
my gudesire had not observed, " From my appointed 
place," he read, " this twenty -fifth of November" — 
"What! — That is yesterday! — Villain, thou must 
have gone to hell for this ! " 

"I got it from your honour's father — whether he 
be in heaven or hell, I know not," said Steenie. 

"I will delate you for a warlock to the Privy 
Council ! " said Sir John. " I will send you to your 
master, the devil, with the help of a tar-barrel and a 
torch ! " 

" I intend to delate mysell to the Presbytery," said 
Steenie, " and tell them all I have seen last night, 
whilk are things fitter for them to judge of than a 
borrel man like me." 

Sir John paused, composed himsell, and desired to 
hear the full history ; and my gudesire told it him from 
point to point, as I have told it you — word for word, 
neither more or less. 

Sir John was silent again for a long time, and at 
last he said, very composedly, " Steenie, this story of 
yours concerns the honour of many a noble family 
besides mine ; and if it be a leasing-making, to keep 
yourself out of my danger, the least you can expect is 
to have a red-hot iron driven through your tongue, 



Wandering Willie's Tale. 157 

and that will be as bad as scauding your fingers with 
a red-hot chanter. But yet it may be true, Steenie ; 
and if the money cast up, I shall not know what to 
think of it. But where shall we find the Cat's 
Cradle ? There are cats enough about the old house, 
but I think they kitten without the ceremony of bed 
or cradle." 

(< We were best ask Hutcheon," said my gudesire ; 
" he kens a' the odd corners about as well as — another 
serving-man that is now gane, and that I wad not like 
to name." 

Aweel, Hutcheon, when he was asked, told them, 
that a ruinous turret, lang disused, next to the clock- 
house, only accessible by a ladder, for the opening 
was on the outside, and far above the battlements, 
was called of old the Cat's Cradle. 

" There will I go immediately," said Sir John ; 
and he took (with what purpose, Heaven kens) one 
of his father's pistols from the hall- table, where they 
had lain since the night he died, and hastened to the 
battlements. 

It was a dangerous place to climb, for the ladder 
was auld and frail, and wanted ane or twa rounds. 
However, up got Sir John, and entered at the turret 
door, where his body stopped the only little light that 
was in the bit turret. Something flees at him wi' a 
vengeance, maist dang him back ower — bang gaed 
the knight's pistol, and Hutcheon, that held the 
ladder, and my gudesire that stood beside him. hears 
a loud skelloch. A minute after, Sir John flings the 
body of the jackanape down to them, and cries that 
the siller is fund, and that they should come up and 



Weird Tales, 



help him. And there was the bag of siller sure 
aneugh, and mony orra things besides, that had been 
missing for mony a day. And Sir John, when he 
had riped the turret weel, led my gudesire into the 
dining-parlour, and took him by the hand, and spoke 
kindly to him, and said he was sorry he should have 
doubted his word, and that he would hereafter be a 
good master to him, to make amends. 

"And now, Steenie," said Sir John, "although 
this vision of yours tends, on the whole, to my 
father's credit, as an honest man, that he should, 
even after his death, desire to see justice done to a 
poor man like you, yet you are sensible that ill- 
dispositioned men might make bad constructions upon 
it, concerning his soul's health. So, I think, we had 
better lay the haill dirdum on th^t ill-deedie creature, 
Major Weir, and say naething about your dream in 
the wood of Pitmurkie. You had taken ower muckle 
brandy to be very certain about onything ; and, 
Steenie, this receipt " (his hand shook while he held 
it out), — " it's but a queer kind of document, and 
we will do best, I think, to put it quietly in the fire." 

" Od, but for as queer as it is, it's a' the voucher I 
have for my rent," said my gudesire, who was afraid, 
it may be, of losing the benefit of Sir Robert's 
discharge. 

M I will bear the contents to your credit in the 
rental-book, and give you a discharge under my own 
hand," said Sir John, " and that on the spot. And, 
Steenie, if you can hold your tongue about this 
matter, you shall sit, from this term downward, at an 
easier rent." 



Wandering Willie's Tale. 159 

M Mony thanks to your honour," said Steenie, who 
saw easily in what corner the wind was ; 4 * doubtless 
I will be conformable to all your honour's com- 
mands ; only I would willingly speak wi' some 
powerful minister on the subject, for I do not like 
the sort of summons of appointment whilk your 
honour's father — " 

"Do not call the phantom my father!" said Sir 
John, interrupting him. 

" Weel, then, the thing that was so like him," 
said my gudesire ; " he spoke of my coming back to 
him this time twelvemonth, and it's a weight on my 
•conscience." 

" Aweel, then," said Sir John, " if you be so much 
distressed in mind, you may speak to our minister of 
the parish ; he is a douce man, regards the honour of 
our family, and the mair that he 'may look for some 
patronage from me. " 

" Wi' that my gudesire readily agreed that the 
receipt should be burnt, and the Laird threw it into 
the chimney with his ain hand. Burn it would not 
for them, though ; but away it flew up the lum, wi' a 
lang train of sparks at its tail, and a hissing noise like 
a squib. 

My gudesire gaed down to the manse, and the 
minister, when he had heard the story, said it was his 
real opinion, that though my gudesire had gaen very 
far in tampering with dangerous matters, yet, as he 
had refused the devil's arles (for such was the offer of 
meat and drink), and had refused to do homage by 
piping at his bidding, he hoped, that if he held a 
circumspect walk hereafter, Satan could take little 



i6o 



Weird Tales. 



advantage by what was come and gane. Ana, 
indeed, my gudesire, of his ain accord, lang foreswore 
baith the pipes and the brandy ; it was not even till 
the year was out, and the fatal day passed, that he 
would so much as take the fiddle, or drink usquebaugh 
or tippenny. 

Sir John made up his story about the jackanape as 
he liked himsell ; and some believe till this day there 
was no more in the matter than the filching nature of 
the brute. Indeed, ye'll no hinder some to threap, 
that it was nane o' the Auld Enemy that Dougal and 
my gudesire saw in the Laird's room, but only that 
wanchancy creature, the Major, capering on the 
coffin ; and that as to the blawing on the Laird's 
whistle that was heard after he was dead, the filthy 
brute could do that as weel as the Laird himsell, if no 
better. But heaven kens the truth, whilk first came 
out by the minister's wife, after Sir John and her ain 
gudeman were baith in the moulds. And then, my 
gudesire, wha was failed in his limbs, but not in his 
judgment or memory — at least nothing to speak of— 
was obliged to tell the real narrative to his freends, 
for the credit of his good name. He might else have 
been charged for a warlock. 



THE HAUNTED SHIPS. 



By Allan Cunningham. 

" Though my mind's not 
Hoodwink'd with rustic marvels, I do think 
There are more things in the grove, the air, the flood. 
Yea, and the charnell'd earth, than that wise man, 
Who walks so proud as if his form alone 
Fill'd the wide temple of the universe, 
Will let a frail mind say. I'd write i' the creed 
O' the sagest head alive, that fearful forms, 
Holy or reprobate, do page men's heels ; 
That shapes, too horrid for our gaze, stand o'er 
The murderer's dust, and for revenge glare up, 
Even till the stars weep fire for very pity." 

Along the sea of Solway, romantic on the Scottish 
side, with its woodland, its bays, its cliffs, and head- 
lands, — and interesting on the English side, with its 
many beautiful towns with their shadows on the 
water, rich pastures, safe harbours, and numerous 
ships, — there still linger many traditional stories of a 
maritime nature, most of them connected with super- 
stitions singularly wild and unusual. To the curious 
these tales afford a rich fund of entertainment, from 
the many diversities of the same story ; some dry and 
barren, and stripped of all the embellishments of 
poetry ; others dressed out in all the riches of a 
superstitious belief and haunted imagination. In this 
they resemble the inland traditions of the peasants ; 
but many of the oral treasures of the Galwegian or 
the Cumbrian coast have the stamp of the Dane and 
s L 



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Weird Tales, 



the Norseman upon them, and claim but a remote 
or faint affinity with the legitimate legends of 
Caledonia. Something like a rude prosaic outline of 
several of the most noted of the northern ballads, the 
adventures and depredations of the old ocean kings, 
still lends life to the evening tale ; and, among others, 
the story of the Haunted Ships is still popular among 
the maritime peasantry. 

One fine harvest evening, I went on board the 
shallop of Richard Faulder, of Allanbay ; and, com- 
mitting ourselves to the waters, we allowed a gentle 
wind from the east to waft us at its pleasure towards 
the Scottish coast. We passed the sharp promontory 
of Siddick ; and skirting the land within a stone-cast, 
glided along the shore till we came within sight 
of the ruined Abbey of Sweetheart. The green 
mountain of Criffell ascended beside us ; and the 
bleat of the flocks from its summit, together with the 
winding of the evening horn of the reapers, came 
softened into something like music over land and sea. 
We pushed our shallop into a deep and wooded bay, 
and sat silently looking on the serene beauty of the 
place The moon glimmered in her rising through 
the tall shafts of the pines of Caerlaverock ; and the 
sky, with scarce a cloud, showered down on wood, 
and headland, and bay, the twinkling beams of a 
thousand stars rendering every object visible. The 
tide, too, was coming with that swift and silent swell 
observable when the wind is gentle ; the woody curves 
along the land were filling with the flood, till it 
touched the green branches of the drooping trees ; 
while in the centre current the roll and the plunge of 



The Haunted Ships. 163 

a thousand pellocks told to the experienced fisherman 
that salmon were abundant. 

As we looked, we saw an old man emerging from a 
path that winded to the shore through a grove of 
doddered hazel ; he carried a half-net on his back, 
while behind him came a girl, bearing a small harpoon 
with which the fishers are remarkably dexterous in 
striking their prey. The senior seated himself on a 
large gray stone, which overlooked the bay, laid aside 
his bonnet, and submitted his bosom and neck to the 
refreshing sea breeze ; and taking his harpoon from 
his attendant, sat with the gravity and composure of 
a spirit of the flood, with his ministering nymph 
behind him. We pushed our shallop to the shore, 
and soon stood at their side. 

"This is old Mark Macmoran, the mariner, with 
his grand-daughter Barbara," said Richard Faulder, 
in a whisper that had something of fear in it ; " he 
knows every creek, and cavern, and quicksand, in 
Solway ; has seen the Spectre Hound that haunts 
the Isle of Man; has heard him bark, and at every 
bark has seen a ship sink ; and he has seen, too, the 
Haunted Ships in full sail ; and, if all tales be true, 
he has sailed in them himself ; he's an awful person." 

Though I perceived in the communication of my 
friend something of the superstition of the sailor, I 
could not help thinking that common rumour had 
made a happy choice in singling out old Mark to 
maintain her intercourse with the invisible world. 
His hair, which seemed to have refused all intercouse 
with the comb, hung matted upon his shoulders; a 
kind of mantle, or rather blanket, pinned with a 



164 



Weird Tales. 



wooden skewer round hie neck, fell mid-leg down, 
concealing all his nether garments as far as a pair of 
hose, darned with yarn of all conceivable colours, 
and a pair of shoes, patched and repaired till nothing 
of the original structure remained, and clasped on his 
feet with two massy silver buckles. If the dress of 
the old man was rude and sordid, that of his grand- 
daughter was gay, and even rich. She wore a 
boddice of fine wool, wrought round the bosom with 
alternate leaf and lily, and a kirtle of the same fabric, 
which, almost touching her white and delicate ancle, 
showed her snowy feet, so fairy-light and round that 
they scarcely seemed to touch the grass where she 
stood. Her hair, a natural ornament which woman 
seeks much to improve, was of bright glossy brown, 
and encumbered rather than adorned with a snood, 
set thick with marine productions, among which the 
small clear pearl found in the Solway was conspicuous. 
Nature had not trusted to a handsome shape, and a 
sylph-like air, for young Barbara's influence over the 
heart of man ; but had bestowed a pair of large bright 
blue eyes, swimming in liquid light, so full of love, 
and gentleness, and joy, that all the sailors from » 
Annan Water to far Saint Bees acknowledged their 
power, and sung songs about the bonnie lass of Mark 
Macmoran. She stood holding a small gaff-hook of 
polished steel in her hand, and seemed not dissatisfied 
with the glances I bestowed on her from time to time, 
and which I held more than requited by a single 
glance of those eyes which retained so many 
capricious hearts in subjection. 

The tide, though rapidly augmenting, had not yet 



The Haunted Ships. 165 

filled the bay at our feet. The moon now streamed 
fairly over the tops of Caerlaverock pines, and showed 
the expanse of ocean dimpling and swelling, on which 
sloops and shallops came dancing, and displaying at 
every turn their extent of white sail against the beam 
of the moon. I looked on old Mark the Mariner, 
who, seated motionless on his gray stone, kept his 
eye fixed on the increasing waters with a look of 
seriousness and sorrow in which I saw little of the 
calculating spirit of a mere fisherman. Though he 
looked on the coming tide, his eyes seemed to dwell 
particularly on the black and decayed hulls of two 
vessels, which, half immersed in the quicksand, still 
addressed to every heart a tale of shipwreck and 
desolation. The tide wheeled and foamed around 
them ; and creeping inch by inch up the side, at last 
fairly threw its waters over the top, and a long and 
hollow eddy showed the resistance which the liquid 
element received. 

The moment they were fairly buried in the water, 
the old man clasped his hands together, and said, 
"Blessed be the tide that will break over and bury ye 
for ever ! Sad to mariners, and sorrowful to maids 
and mothers, has the time been ye have choked up 
this deep and bonnie bay. For evil were you sent, 
and for evil have you continued. Eveiy season finds 
from you its song of sorrow and wail, its funeral pro- 
cessions, and its shrouded corses. Woe to the land 
where the wood grew that made ye ! Cursed be the 
axe that hewed ye on the mountains, the hands that 
joined ye together, the bay that ye first swam in, and 
the wind that wafted ye here ! Seven times have ye 



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Weird Tales. 



put my life in peril, three fair sons have ye swept 
from my side, and two bonnie grand-bairns; and 
now, even now, your waters foam and flash for my 
destruction, did I venture my infirm limbs in quest of 
food in your deadly bay. I see by that ripple and 
that foam, and hear by the sound and singing of your 
surge, that ye yearn for another victim ; but it shall 
not be me nor mine." 

Even as the old mariner addressed himself to the 
wrecked ships, a young man appeared at the southern 
extremity of the bay, holding his half-net in his 
hand, and hastening into the current. Mark rose, 
and shouted, and waved him back from a place which, 
to a person unacquainted with the dangers of the bay, 
real and superstitious, seemed sufficiently perilous : 
his grand-daughter, too, added her voice to his, and 
waved her white hands ; but the more they strove, 
the faster advanced the peasant, till he stood to his 
middle in the water, while the tide increased every 
moment in depth and strength. "Andrew, Andrew," 
cried the young woman, in a voice quavering with 
emotion, " turn, turn, I tell you : oh, the Ships, the 
Haunted Ships ! " But the appearance of a fine run of 
fish had more influence with the peasant than the 
voice of bonnie Barbara, and forward he dashed, net 
in hand. In a moment he was borne off his feet, 
and mingled like foam with the water, and hurried 
towards the fatal eddies which whirled and roared 
round the sunken ships. But he was a powerful 
young man, and an expert swimmer ; he seized on 
one of the projecting ribs of the nearest hulk, and 
clinging to it with the grasp of despair, uttered yell 



The Haunted Ships, 



167 



after yell, sustaining himself against the prodigious 
rush of the current. 

From a shealing of turf and straw, within the pitch 
of a bar from the spot where we stood, came out an 
old woman bent with age, and leaning on a crutch. 
" I heard the voice of that lad Andrew Lammie ; can 
the chield be drowning, that he skirls sae uncannilie?" 
said the old woman, seating herself on the ground, 
and looking earnestly at the water. " Ou ay," she 
continued, "he's doomed, he's doomed; heart and 
hand can never save him ; boats, ropes, and man's 
strength and wit, all vain ! vain ! he's doomed, he's 
doomed ! " 

By this time I had thrown myself into the shallop, 
followed reluctantly by Richard Faulder, over whose 
courage and kindness of heart superstition had great 
power ; and with one push from the shore, and some 
exertion in sculling, we came within a quoit-cast of 
the unfortunate fisherman. He stayed not to profit by 
our aid ; for when he perceived us near, he uttered 
a piercing shriek of joy, and bounded towards us 
through the agitated element the full length of an oar. 
I saw him for a second on the surface of the water ; 
but the eddying current sucked him down ; and all I 
ever beheld of him again was his hand held above the 
flood, and clutching in agony at some imaginary aid. 
I sat gazing in horror on the vacant sea before us : 
but a breathing time before, a human being, full of 
youth, and strength, and hope, was there ; his cries 
were still ringing in my ears, and echoing in the 
woods ; and now nothing was seen or heard save the 
turbulent expanse of water, and the sound of its 



i68 



Weird Tales. 



chafing on the shores. We pushed back our shallop, 
and resumed our station on the cliff beside the old 
mariner and his descendant. 

"Wherefore sought ye to peril your own lives fruit- 
lessly?" said Mark, "in attempting to save the 
doomed. Whoso touches those infernal ships, never 
survives to tell the tale. Woe to the man who is 
found nigh them at midnight when the tide has sub- 
sided, and they arise in their former beauty, with 
forecastle, and deck, and sail, and pennon, and 
shroud ! Then is seen the streaming of lights along 
the water from their cabin windows, and then is 
heard the sound of mirth and the clamour of tongues, 
and the infernal whoop and halloo, and song, ringing 
far and wide. Woe to the man who comes nigh 
them ! " 

To all this my Allanbay companion listened with n 
breathless attention. I felt something touched with a 
superstition to which I partly believed I had seen one 
victim offered up ; and I inquired of the old mariner, 
"How and when came these haunted ships there? 
To me they seem but the melancholy relics of some 
unhappy voyagers, and much more likely to warn 
people to shun destruction, than entice and delude 
them to it. " 

"And so," said the old man with a smile, which 
had more of sorrow in it than of mirth; "and so, 
young man, these black and shattered hulks seem to 
the eye of the multitude. But things are not what 
they seem ; that water, a kind and convenient servant 
to the wants of man, which seems so smooth, and 
so dimpling, and so gentle, has swallowed up a 



The Haunted Ships, 



169 



human soul even now ; and the place which it covers, 
so fair and so level, is a faithless quicksand, out of 
which none escape. Things are otherwise than they 
seem. Had you lived as long as I have had the 
sorrow to live ; had you seen the storms, and braved 
the perils, and endured the distresses which have 
befallen me ; had you sat gazing out on the dreary 
ocean at midnight on a haunted coast ; had you seen 
comrade after comrade, brother after brother, and son 
after son, swept away by the merciless ocean from 
your very side ; had you seen the shapes of friends, 
doomed to the wave and the quicksand, appearing to 
you in the dreams and visions of the night, — then 
would your mind have been prepared for crediting 
the maritime legends of mariners ; and the two 
haunted Danish ships would have had their terrors 
for you, as they have for all who sojourn on this coast. 

" Of the time and the cause of their destruction," 
continued the old man, " I know nothing certain : 
they have stood as you have seen them for uncounted 
time ; and while all other ships wrecked on this 
unhappy coast have gone to pieces, and rotted, and 
sunk away in a few years, these two haunted hulks 
have neither sunk in the quicksand, nor has a single 
spar or board been displaced. Maritime legend says, 
that two ships of Denmark having had permission, 
for a time, to work deeds of darkness and dolour on 
the deep, were at last condemned to the whirlpool 
and the sunken rock, and were wrecked in this 
bonnie bay, as a sign to seamen to be gentle and 
devout. The night when they were lost was a 
harvest evening of uncommon mildness and beauty ; 



170 



Weird Tales. 



the sun had newly set ; the moon came brighter and 
brighter out ; and the reapers, laying their sickles at 
the root of the standing corn, stood on rock and bank, 
looking at the increasing magnitude of the waters, for 
sea and land were visible from Saint Bees to Barn- 
hourie. The sails of two vessels were soon seen bent 
for the Scottish coast ; and with a speed outrunning 
the swiftest ship, they approached the dangerous 
quicksands and headland of Borran Point. On the 
deck of the foremost ship not a living soul was seen, 
or shape, unless something in darkness and form 
resembling a human shadow could be- called a shape, 
which flitted from extremity to extremity of the ship, 
with the appearance of trimming the sails, and direct- 
ing the vessel's course. But the decks of its com- 
panion were crowded with human shapes ; the 
captain, and mate, and sailor, and cabin boy, all 
seemed there ; and from them the sound of mirth and 
minstrelsy echoed over land and water. The coast 
which they skirted along was one of extreme danger ; 
and the reapers shouted to warn them to beware of 
sandbank and rock ; but of this friendly counsel no 
notice was taken, except that a large and famished 
dog, which sat on the prow, answered every shout 
with a long, loud, and melancholy howl. The deep 
sand-bank of Carsethorn was expected to arrest the 
career of these desperate navigators ; but they passed, 
with the celerity of waterfowl, over an obstruction 
which had wrecked many pretty ships. 

" Old men shook their heads and departed, saying, 
•We have seen the fiend sailing in a bottomless ship — 
let us go home and pray ' ; but one young and wilful 



The Haunted Ships. 



171 



man said, * Fiend ! I'll warrant it's nae fiend, but 
douce Janet Withershins, the witch, holding a carouse 
with some of her Cumberland cummers, and mickle 
red wine will be spilt atween them. Dod I would 
gladly have a toothfu' ! I'll warrant it's nane o' your 
cauld sour slae-water like a bottle of Bailie Skrinkie's 
port, but right drap-o'-my-heart's-blood stuff, that 
would waken a body out of their last linen. I wonder 
where the cummers will anchor their craft?' 'And 
I'll vow,' said another rustic, 'the wine they quaff is 
none of your visionary drink, such as a drouthie body 
has dished out to his lips in a dream ; nor is it 
shadowy and unsubstantial, like the vessels they sail 
in, which are made out of a cockle-shell or a cast-off 
slipper, or the paring of a seaman's right thumb- 
nail. I once got a hansel out of a witch's quaigh 
myself, — auld Marion Mathers, of Dustiefoot, whom 
they tried to bury in the old kirk-yard of Dun- 
score ; but the cummer raise as fast as they laid 
her down, and nae where else would she lie but 
in the bonnie green kirk-yard of Kier, among douce 
and sponsible fowk. So I'll vow that the wine of a 
witch's cup is as fell liquor as ever did a kindly turn 
to a poor man's heart ; and be they fiends, or be 
they witches, if they have red wine asteer, I'll risk a 
drouket sark for ae glorious tout on't.' 4 Silence, 
ye sinners,' said the minister's son of a neighbouring 
parish, who united in his own person his father's 
lack of devotion with his mother's love of liquor. 
' Whisht !— speak as if ye had the fear of something 
holy before ye. Let the vessels run their own way 
to destruction ; who can stay the eastern wind, and 



172 



Weird Tales. 



the current of the Solway sea ? I can find ye Scrip- 
ture warrant for that ; so let them try their strength 
on Blawhooly rocks, and their might on the broad 
quicksand. There's a surf running there would 
knock the ribs together of a galley built by the imps 
of the pit, and commanded by the Prince of Dark- 
ness. Bonnilie and bravely they sail away there ; 
but before the blast blows by they'll be wrecked ; 
and red wine and strong brandy will be as rife as 
dyke-water, and we'll drink the health of bonnie Bell 
Blackness out of her left foot slipper.' 

6 ' The speech of the young profligate was applauded 
by several of his companions, and away they flew 
to the bay of Blawhooly, from whence they never 
returned. The two vessels were observed all at once 
to stop in the bosom of the bay, on the spot where 
their hulls now appear ; the mirth and the minstrelsy 
waxed louder than ever ; and the forms of maidens, 
with instruments of music and wine-cups in their 
hands, thronged the decks. A boat was lowered ; 
and the same shadowy pilot who conducted the ships 
made it start towards the shore with the rapidity of 
lightning, and its head knocked against the bank 
where the four young men stood, who longed for the 
unblest drink. They leaped in with a laugh, and 
with a laugh were they welcomed on deck ; wine 
cups were given to each, and as they raised them to 
their lips the vessels melted away beneath their feet ; 
and one loud shriek, mingled with laughter still 
louder, was heard over land and water for many 
miles. Nothing more was heard or seen till the 
morning, when the crowd who came to the beach 



The Haunted Ships. 173 



saw with fear and wonder the two Haunted Ships, 
such as they now seem, masts and tackle gone ; nor 
mark, nor sign, by which their name, country, or 
destination could be known, was left remaining. 
Such is the tradition of the mariners ; and its truth 
has been attested by many families whose sons and 
whose fathers have been drowned in the haunted bay 
of Blawhooly.", 

" And trow ye," said the old woman, who, attracted 
from her hut by the drowning cries of the young 
fisherman, had remained an auditor of the mariner's 
legend, — "and trow ye, Mark Macmoran, that the 
tale of the Haunted Ships is done ? I can say no to 
that. Mickle have mine ears heard ; but more mine 
eyes have witnessed since I came to dwell in this 
humble home by the side of the deep sea. I mind 
the night weel ; it was on Hallowmas-eve ; the nuts 
were cracked, and the apples were eaten, and spell 
and charm were tried at my fireside ; till, wearied 
with diving into the dark waves of futurity, the lads 
and lasses fairly took to the more visible blessings of 
kind words, tender clasps, and gentle courtship. 
Soft words in a maiden's ear, and a kindlie kiss o' 
her lip, were old-world matters to me, Mark Mac- 
moran ; though I mean not to say that I have been 
free of the folly of daunering and daffin with a youth 
in my day, and keeping tryst with him in dark and 
lonely places. However, as I say, these times of 
enjoyment were passed and gone with me, — the mair's 
the pity that pleasure should fly sae fast away ; and 
as I could nae make sport I thought I should not 
mar any, so out I sauntered into the fresh cold air, 



174 



Weird Tales, 



and sat down behind that old oak, and looked abroad 
on the wide sea. I had my ain sad thoughts, ye may 
think, at the time : it was in that very bay my blithe 
gudeman perished, with seven more in his company ; 
and on that very bank where ye see the waves leap- 
ing and foaming, I saw seven stately corses streeked, 
but the dearest was the eighth. It was a woeful 
sight to me, a widow, with four bonnie boys, with 
nought to support them but these twa hands, and 
God's blessing, and a cow's grass. I have never 
liked to live out of sight of this bay since that time ; 
and mony's the moonlight night I sit looking on 
these watery mountains, and these waste shores ; it 
does my heart good, whatever it may do to my head. 
So ye see it was Hallowmas night ; and looking on 
sea and land sat I ; and my heart wandering to other 
thoughts soon made me forget my youthful company 
at hame. It might be near the howe hour of the 
night ; the tide was making, and its singing brought 
strange old-world stories with it ; and I thought on 
the dangers that sailors endure, the fates they meet 
with, and the fearful forms they see. My own blithe 
gudeman had seen sights that made him grave 
enough at times, though he aye tried to laugh them 
away. 

" Aweel, at ween that very rock aneath us and the 
coming tide, I saw, or thought I saw, for the tale is 
so dream-like, that the whole might pass for a vision 
of the night, — I saw the form of a man ; his plaid was 
gray ; his face was gray ; and his hair, which hung 
low down till it nearly came to the middle of his 
back, was as white as the white sea-foam. He 



The Haunted Ships. 



175 



began to howk and dig under the bank ; an* God be 
near me, thought I, this maun be the unblessed 
spirit of auld Adam Gowdgowpin, the miser, who is 
doomed to dig for shipwrecked treasure, and count 
how many millions are hidden for ever from man's 
enjoyment. The Form found something which in 
shape and hue seemed a left-foot slipper of brass ; so 
down to the tide he marched, and placing it on the 
water, whirled it thrice round ; and the infernal 
slipper dilated at every turn, till it became a bonnie 
barge with its sails bent, and on board leaped the 
form, and scudded swiftly away. He came to one 
of the Haunte^ Ships ; and striking it with his oar, 
a fair ship, with mast, and canvas, and mariners, 
started up ; he touched the other Haunted Ship, and 
produced the like transformation ; and away the 
three spectre ships bounded, leaving a track of fire 
behind them on the billows which was long unex- 
tinguished. Now was nae that a bonnie and a fearful 
sight to see beneath the light of the Hallowmas 
moon? But the tale is far frae finished ; for mariners 
say that once a year, on a certain night, if ye stand 
on the Borran Point, ye will see the infernal shallops 
coming snoring through the Solway ; ye will hear 
the same laugh, and song, and mirth, and minstrelsy, 
which our ancestors heard ; see them bound over the 
sand-banks and sunken rocks like sea-gulls, cast 
their anchor in Blawhooly Bay, while the shadowy 
figure lowers down the boat, and augments their 
numbers with the four unhappy mortals to whose 
memory a stone stands in the kirkyard, with a sink- 
ing ship and a shoreless sea cut upon it. Then the 



176 



Weird Tales. 



spectre ships vanish, and the drowning shriek of 
mortals, and the rejoicing laugh of fiends are heard ; 
and the old hulks are left as a memorial that the old 
spiritual kingdom has not departed from the earth. 
But I maun away, and trim my little cottage fire, and 
make it burn and blaze up bonnie, to warm the 
crickets, and my cold and crazy bones, that maun 
soon be laid aneath the green sod in the eerie kirk- 
yard." And away the old dame tottered to her 
cottage, secured the door on the inside, and soon the 
hearth-flame was seen to glimmer and gleam through 
the key-hole and window. 

" I'll tell ye what," said the old mariner, in a 
subdued tone, and with a shrewd and suspicious 
glance of his eye after the old sibyl, "it's a word 
that may not very well be uttered, but there are 
many mistakes made in evening stories if old Moll 
Moray there, where she lives, knows not mickle 
more than she is willing to tell of the Haunted Ships, 
and their unhallowed mariners. She lives cannilie 
and quietly ; no one knows how she is fed or sup- 
ported ; but her dress is aye whole, her cottage ever 
smokes, and her table lacks neither of wine, white 
and red, nor of fowl and fish, and white bread and 
brown. It was a dear scoff to Jock Matheson when 
he called old Moll the uncannie carline of Blawhooly : 
his boat ran round and round in the centre of the 
Solway, — everybody said it was enchanted, — and 
down it went head foremost ; and had nae Jock been 
a swimmer equal to a sheldrake, he would have fed 
the fish, — but I'll warrant it sobered the lad's speech ; 
and he never reckoned himself safe till he made 



The Haunted Ships, 



*77 



auld Moll the present of a new kirtle and a stone of 
cheese." 

"O father," said his grand-daughter Barbara, "ye 
surely wrong poor old . Mary Moray. What use could 
it be to an old woman like her, who has no wrongs 
to redress, no malice to work out against mankind, 
and nothing to seek of enjoyment save a cannie hour 
and a quiet grave, — what use could the fellowship of 
fiends, and the communion of evil spirits, be to her ? 
I know Jenny Primrose puts rowan-tree above the 
door-head when she sees old Mary coming ; I know 
the good wife of Kittlenaket wears rowan-berry leaves 
in the headband of her blue kirtle, and all for the 
sake of averting the unsonsie glance of Mary's right 
ee ; and I know that the auld laird of Burntroutwater 
drives his seven cows to their pasture with a wand 
of witch-tree, to keep Mary from milking them. 
But what has all that to do with haunted shallops, 
visionary mariners, and bottomless boats ? I have 
heard myself as pleasant a tale about the Haunted 
Ships and their unworldly crews, as any one would 
wish to hear in a winter evening. It was told me by 
young Benjie Macharg, one summer night, sitting 
on Arbigland Bank. The lad intended a sort of love 
meeting; but all that he could talk of was about 
smearing sheep and shearing sheep, and of the wife 
which the Norway elves of the Haunted Ships made 
for his uncle Sandie Macharg. And I shall tell ye 
the tale as the honest lad told it to me. 

"Alexander Macharg, besides being the laird of 
three acres of peatmoss, two kale gardens, and the 
owner of seven good milch cows, a pair of horses, 
s M 



i 7 8 



Weird Tales. 



and six pet sheep, was the husband of one of the 
handsomest women in seven parishes. Many a lad 
sighed the day he was brided ; and a Nithsdale laird 
and two Annandale moorland farmers drank them- 
selves to their last linen, as well as their last shilling, 
through sorrow for her loss. But married was the 
dame ; and home she was carried, to bear rule over 
her home and her husband, as an honest woman 
should. Now ye maun ken that, though the flesh-and- 
blood lovers of Alexander's bonnie wife all ceased to 
love and to sue her after she became another's, there 
were certain admirers who did not consider their 
claim at all abated, or their hopes lessened by the 
kirk's famous obstacle of matrimony. Ye have heard 
how the devout minister of Tinwald had a fair son 
carried away, and bedded against his liking to an 
unchristened bride, whom the elves and the fairies 
provided ; ye have heard how the bonnie bride of the 
drunken laird of Soukitup was stolen by the fairies 
out at the back window of the bridal chamber, the 
time the bridegroom was groping his way to the 
chamber door ; and ye have heard — but why need I 
multiply cases ? such things in the ancient days were 
as common as candle-light. So ye'll no hinder 
certain water elves and sea fairies, who sometimes 
keep festival and summer mirth in these old haunted 
hulks, from falling in love with the weel-faured wife 
of Laird Macharg ; and to their plots and contriv- 
ances they went how they might accomplish to sunder 
man and wife ; and sundering such a man and such 
a wife was like sundering the green leaf from the 
summer, or the fragrance from the flower. 



The Haunted Ships. 



179 



1 1 So it fell on a time that Laird Macharg took his 
half-net on his back, and his steel spear in his hand, 
and down to Blawhooly Bay gade he, and into the 
Water he went right between the two haunted hulks, 
and, placing his net, awaited the coming of the tide. 
The night, ye maun ken, was mirk, and the wind 
lowne, and the singing of the increasing waters 
among the shells and the peebles was heard for 
sundry miles. All at once lights began to glance and 
twinkle on board the two Haunted Ships from every 
hole and seam, and presently the sound as of a 
hatchet employed in squaring timber echoed far and 
wide. But if the toil of these unearthly workmen 
amazed the Laird, how much more was his amaze- 
ment increased when a sharp shrill voice called out, 
' Ho ! brother, what are you doing now ? ' A voice 
still shriller responded from the other haunted ship, 
' I'm making a wife to Sandie Macharg ! ' and a loud 
quavering laugh, running from ship to ship, and from 
bank to bank, told the joy they expected from their 
labour. 

" Now the Laird, besides being a devout and a 
God-fearing man, was shrewd and bold ; and in plot, 
and contrivance, and skill in conducting his designs, 
was fairly an overmatch for any dozen land elves. 
But the water elves are far more subtle ; besides, 
their haunts and their dwellings being in the great 
deep, pursuit and detection is hopeless if they succeed 
in carrying their prey to the waves. But ye shall 
hear. Home flew the laird, — collected his family 
around the hearth, — spoke of the signs and the sins 
of the times, and talked of mortification and prayer 



i8o 



Weird Tales. 



for averting calamity ; and finally, taking his father's 
Bible, brass clasps, black print, and covered with 
calf-skin, from the shelf, he proceeded without let or 
stint to perform domestic worship. I should have 
told ye that he bolted and locked the door, shut up 
all inlet to the house, threw salt into the fire, and 
proceeded in every way like a man skilful in guarding 
against the plots of fairies and fiends. His wife 
looked on all this with wonder ; but she saw some- 
thing in her husband's looks that hindered her from 
intruding either question or advice, and a wise 
woman was she. 

"Near the mid hour of the night the rush of a 
horse's feet was heard, and the sound of a rider 
leaping from its back, and a heavy knock came to 
the door, accompanied by a voice, saying, * The 
cummer drink's hot, and the knave bairn is expected 
at Laird Laurie's to-night ; sae mount, gudewife, 
and come.' 

" ' Preserve me ! ' said the wife of Sandie Macharg; 
* that's news indeed ! who could have thought it ? the 
Laird has been heirless for seventeen years ! Now 
Sandie, my man, fetch me my skirt and hood.' 

" But he laid his arm round his wife's neck, and 
said, * If all the lairds in Galloway go heirless, over 
this door threshold shall you not stir to-night ; and 
I have said, and I have sworn it : seek not to know 
why or wherefore — but, Lord, send us thy blessed 
mornlight.' The wife looked for a moment in her 
husband's eyes, and desisted from further entreaty. 

" 'But let us send a civil message to the gossips, 
Sandy ; and had nae ye better say 1 am sair laid with 



The Haunted Ships. 181 

a sudden sickness ? though its sinful-like to send the 
poor messenger a mile agate with a lie in his mouth 
without a glass of brandy. ' 

" * To such a messenger, and to those who sent 
him, no apology is needed/ said the austere Laird, 
'so let him depart.' And the clatter of a horse's 
hoofs was heard, and the muttered imprecations of 
its rider on the churlish treatment he had experienced. 

"'Now Sandie, my lad,' said his wife, laying an 
arm particularly white and round about his neck as 
she spoke, * are you not a queer man and a stern ? 
I have been your wedded wife now these three years ; 
and, beside my dower, have brought you three as 
bonnie bairns as ever smiled aneath a summer sun. 
O man, you a douce man, and fitter to be an elder 
than even Willie Greer himself, — I have the minister's 
ain word for't, — to put on these hard-hearted looks, 
and gang waving your arms that way, as if ye said, 
" I winna take the counsel of sic a hempie as you." 
I'm your ain leal wife, and will and maun have an 
explanation.' 

" To all this Sandie Macharg replied, 1 It is written 
— " Wives, obey your husbands ; " but we have been 
stayed in our devotion, so let us pray ; ' and down he 
knelt. His wife knelt also, for she was as devout as 
bonnie ; and beside them knelt their household, and 
all lights were extinguished. 

" 1 Now this beats a',' muttered his wife to herself ; 
9 however, I shall be obedient for a time ; but if I 
dinna ken what all this is for before the morn by 
sunket-time, my tongue is nae langer a tongue, nor 
my hands worth wearing. ' 



l82 



Weird Tales. 



"The voice of her husband in prayer interrupted 
this mental soliloquy ; and ardently did he beseech 
to be preserved from the wiles of the fiends, and the 
snares of Satan ; 1 from witches, ghosts, goblins, 
elves, fairies, spunkies, and water-kelpies ; from the 
spectre shallop of Sol way ; from spirits visible and 
invisible ; from the Haunted Ships and their unearthly 
tenants ; from maritime spirits that plotted against 
godly men, and fell in love with their wives ' — 

" * Nay, but His presence be near us ! ' said his 
wife in a low tone of dismay. * God guide my gude- 
man's wits : I never heard such a prayer from human 
lips before. But Sandie, my man, Lord's sake, 
rise : what fearful light is this ? — barn, and byre, and 
stable, maun be in a blaze ; and Hawkie and Hurley, 
— Doddie, and Cherrie, and Damson Plum, will be 
smoored with reek, and scorched with flame.' 

"And a flood of light, but not so gross as a 
common fire, which ascended to heaven and filled all 
the court before the house, amply justified the good 
wife's suspicions. But to the terrors of fire, Sandie 
was as immovable as he was to the imaginary groans 
of the barren wife of Laird Laurie ; and he held his 
wife, and threatened the weight of his right hand — 
and it was a heavy one — to all who ventured abroad, 
or even unbolted the door. The neighing and 
prancing of horses, and the bellowing of cows, 
augmented the horrors of the night ; and to any one 
who only heard the din, it seemed that the whole 
onstead was in a blaze, and horses and cattle perish- 
ing in the flame. All wiles, common or extra- 
ordinary, were put in practice to entice or force the 



The Haunted Ships. 



honest farmer and his wife to open the door ; and 
when the like success attended every new stratagem, 
silence for a little while ensued, and a long, loud, 
and shrilling laugh wound up the dramatic efforts 
of the night. In the morning, when Laird Macharg 
went to the door, he found standing against one of 
the pilasters a piece of black ship oak, rudely fashioned 
into something like human form, and which skilful 
people declared would have been clothed with seem- 
ing flesh and blood, and palmed upon him by elfin 
adroitness for his wife, had he admitted his visitants. 
A synod of wise men and women sat upon the woman 
of timber, and she was finally ordered to be devoured 
by fire, and that in the open air. A fire was soon 
made, and into it the elfin sculpture was tossed from 
the prongs of two pairs of pitchforks. The blaze 
that arose was awful to behold ; and hissings, and 
burstings, and loud cracklings, and strange noises, 
were heard in the midst of the flame ; and when 
the whole sank into ashes, a drinking cup of some 
precious metal was found ; and this cup, fashioned 
no doubt by elfin skill, but rendered harmless by 
the purification with fire, the sons and daughters of 
Sandie Macharg and his wife drink out of to this 
very day. Bless all bold men, say I, and obedient 
wives I " 



THE UNKNOWN. 

By John Mackay Wilson, 

In the year 1785, a young and beautiful woman, 
whose dress and features bespoke her to be a native 
of Spain, was observed a few miles beyond Ponteland, 
on the road which leads to Rothbury. She appeared 
faint and weary ; dimness was deepening over the 
lustre of her dark eyes, and their glance bespoke 
anxious misery. Her raiment was of the finest silk ; 
but time had caused its colour to fade ; and it hung 
around her a tattered robe — an ensign of present 
poverty and wretchedness, a ruined remnant of 
prouder days that were past. She walked feebly and 
slowly along, bearing in her arms an infant boy ; and 
she was observed, at intervals, to sit down, press her 
pale lips to her child's cheek, and weep. Several 
peasants, who were returning from their labours in 
the fields, stood and spoke to her ; but she gazed on 
them with wild looks of despair, and she answered them 
in a strange language which they did not understand. 

" She has been a lady, poor thing," said some of 
them. 

" Ha ! " said others, who had less charity in their 
breasts, "they have not all been ladies that wear 
tattered silk in strange fashions." 

Some inquired of her if she were hungry ; if she 
wanted a lodging ; or where she was going. But, 
like the mother of Thomas-a-Beckett, to all their 

184 



The Unknown, 185 



inquiries she answered them but in one word that they 
understood, and that word was " Edinburgh /" 

Some said, " The poor creature is crazed " ; and 
when she perceived that they comprehended her not, 
she ^ aved her hand impatiently for them to depart, 
and pressing her child closer to her bosom, she bent 
her head over him and sighed. The peasants, believing 
from her gestures that she desired not their presence, 
left her, some pitying, all wondering. Within an 
hour some of them returned to the place where they 
had seen her, with the intent of offering her shelter 
for the night ; but she was not to be found. 

On the following morning, one Peter Thornton, a 
farmer, went into his stackyard before his servants 
were astir, and his attention being aroused by the 
weeping and wailing of a child, he hastened toward 
the spot from whence the sound proceeded. In a 
secluded corner of the yard he beheld a woman lying, 
as if asleep, upon some loose straw ; and a child was 
weeping and uttering strange sounds of lamentation 
in her bosom. It was the lovely, but wretched- 
looking foreigner whom the peasants had seen on the 
evening before. Peter was a blunt, kind-hearted 
Scotsman : he resembled a piece of rich, though 
unpolished metal. He approached the forlorn stranger ; 
and her strange dress, her youth, the stamp of misery 
that surrounded her, and the death-like expression of 
her features, moved him, as he gazed upon her and 
her child, almost to tears. 

"Get up, woman," said he; "why do you lie 
there? Get up, and come wi' me ; ye seem to be ill, 
and my wife will get ye something comfortable." 



i86 



Weird Tales. 



"But she spoke not, she moved not, though the 
child screamed louder at his presence. He called to 
her again ; but still she remained motionless. 

" Preserve us ! " said he, somewhat alarmed, 
"what can have came owre the woman? I daresay 
she is in a trance ! She sleeps sounder there in the 
open air, and upon the bare straw, wi' her poor bairn 
crying like to break its heart upon her breast, than I 
could do on a feather bed, wi' everything peace and 
quietness around me. Come, waken, woman ! " he 
added ; and he bent down and took her by the hand. 
But her fingers were stiff and cold — there was no sign 
of life upon her lips, neither was there breath in her 
nostrils. 

"What is this!" exclaimed Peter, in a tone of 
horror — "a dead woman in my stackyard ! — has there 
been murder at my door through the night ? I'll gie 
all that I am worth as a reward to find it out ! " 
And leaving the child screaming by the side of its 
dead mother, he rushed breathless into the house, 
exclaiming — "Oh wife! wife — Jenny, woman! — I 
say, Jenny ! get up ! Here has been bloody wark at 
our door ! What do ye think ! — a dead woman lying 
in our stackyard, wi' a bonny bairn screaming on her 
breast ! " 

" What's that ye say, Peter ! " cried his wife, 
starting up in terror; "a dead woman?— ye're 
dreaming — ye're not in earnest ! " 

"Haste ye ! haste ye, Jenny!" he added; "it's 
as true as that my name is Peter Thornton." 

She arose, and, with their household servants, 
accompanied him to where the dead body lay. 



The Unknown, 



i8 7 



"Now," added Peter, with a look which bespoke 
the troubled state of his feelings, " this will be a job 
for the crown er, an' we'll a' have to be examined and 
cross-examined backward and forward, just as if we 
had killed the woman, or had anything to do wi' her 
death. I would rather have lost five hundred pounds 
than that she had been found dead upon my stack- 
yard." 

"But, see," said Jenny, after she had ascertained 
that the mother was really dead, and as she took up 
the child in her arms and kissed it — "see what a 
sweet, bonny, innocent-looking creature this is ! 
And, poor thing, only to think that it should be left 
an orphan, and apparently in a foreign land, for I 
dinna understand a word that it greets and says." 

A coroner's inquest was accordingly held upon the 
body, and a verdict of "Found dead" returned. 
Nothing was discovered about the person of the 
deceased which could throw light upon who she was. 
All the money she had had with her consisted of a 
small Spanish coin ; but on her hand she wore a 
gemmed ring, of curious workmanship and consider- 
able value, and also a plain marriage-ring. On the 
inside of the former were engraven the characters of 
C. F. et M. V. ; and, within the latter, C. et M. F. 
The fashion of her dress was Spanish, and the few 
words of lamentation which her poor child could 
imperfectly utter were discovered to be in that 
language. There being small likelihood of discover- 
ing who the stranger had been, her orphan boy was 
about to be committed to the workhouse ; but Mrs. 
Thornton had no children of her own, the motherless 



i88 



Weird Tales. 



little one had been three days under her care, and 
already her heart began to feel for him a mother's 
fondness. 

" Peter," said she unto her husband, "I am not 
happy at the thought o' this poor bairn being sent to 
the workhouse. I'm sure he was born above such a 
condition. Death in taking his mother left him help- 
less and crying for help at our door, and I think it 
would be unnatural in us to withhold it. Now, as we 
have nae family o' our own, if ye'll bear the expense, 
I'm sure I'm willing to take the trouble o' bringing 
him up." 

" Wi' a' my heart, Jenny, my dow," said Peter; 
"it was me that found the bairn, and if ye say, keep 
it, I say, keep it, too. His meat will never be 
missed ; and it will be a worse year wi' us than 
ony we hae seen, when we canna get claes to his 
back." 

"Peter," replied she, "I always said ye had a 
good heart ; and, by this action, ye prove it to the 
world." 

" I care not that !" said he, snapping the nail of 
his thumb upwards from his forefinger, 4 'what the 
world may say or think about me, provided you and 
my conscience say that it is right that I hae done." 

They, therefore, from that hour took the orphan as 
the child of their adoption ; and they were most 
puzzled to decide by what name he should be called. 

" It is perfectly evident to me," said the farmer, 
"from the letters on the rings, that his faither's first 
name begun wi' a C, and his second wi' an F ; but 
we could never be able to find out the outlandish 



The Unknown, 189 



foreign words that they may stand for. We shall, 
therefore, just give him some decent Christian name." 

" And what name more decent or respectable could 
we gie him than our own?" said Jenny. "Suppose 
we just call him Thornton — Peter Thornton ! " 

"No, no, gudewife," said he, "there must twa 
words go to the making o' that bargain ; for though 
nobody would charge you wi' being his mother, the 
time may come when folk would be wicked enough to 
hint that I was his faither ; therefore I do not think 
it proper that he should tak my name. What say ye 
now, as it is probable that his faither's name begun 
wi' a C, if we were to call him Christopher ; and as 
we found him in the month of May, we should gie 
him a surname after the month, and call him Chris- 
topher May. That, in my opinion, is a very bonny 
name ; and I hae nae doubt that, if he be spared till 
those dark een o' his begin to look after the lasses, 
mony a ane o' them will be o' the same way o' 
thinking." 

The child soon became reconciled to the change in 
his situation, and returned the kindness of his foster- 
mother with affection. She rejoiced as he gradually 
forgot the few words of Spanish which he at first 
lisped, and in their stead began to speak the language 
of the Borders. With delight in her eyes, she 
declared that " she had learned him his mother tongue, 
which he now spoke as natural as life, though, when 
she took him under her care, he could say nothing 
but some heathenish kind o' sounds, which nobody 
could mak any more sense o', than it was possible to 
do out o' the yammerin' o' an infant o' six months old." 



190 Weird Tales. 

As the orphan grew up, he became noted as the 
liveliest boy in the neighbourhood. He was the 
tallest of his age, and the most fearless. About three 
years after Peter Thornton had taken him under his 
protection, he sent him to school. But, lively as the 
orphan Christopher May was (for so we shall now 
call him), he by now means showed an aptness to 
learn. For five years, and he never rose higher than 
the middle of the class. The teacher was often 
wroth with the thoughtlessness of his pupil ; and in 
his displeasure said — 1 'It is nonsense, sirrah, to say 
that ye was ever a Spaniard. There is something 
like sense and stability o' character about the people 
o' Spain ; but you — ye're a Frenchman ! — a thought- 
less, dancing, settle-to-nothing fool. Or, if ever ye 
were a Spaniard, ye belong to the family o' Don 
Quixote ; his name would be found in the catalogue 
o' your great-grandfathers." Even Peter Thornton, 
though no scholar, was grieved when the teacher 
called upon him, and complained of the giddiness of 
his adopted son, and of the little progress which he 
made under his care. 

" Christie, ye rascal ye," said Peter, stamping his 
foot, " what news are these your master tells o' ye? 
He says he's ashamed o' ye, and that ye'll never 
learn." 

But even for his thoughtlessness, the kind heart of 
Jenny found an excuse. 

"Dear me, gudeman," said she, "I wonder to 
hear the maister and ye talk ; I am surprised that 
both o' ye haena mair sense. Do ye not tak into 
consideration that the bairn is learning in a foreign 



The Unknown. \§\ 

language? Had his mother lived, he would hae 
spoken Spanish ; and how can ye expect him to be 
as glib at the Scottish language as those that were 
learned — born I may say— to speak it from the 
breast ? " 

" True, Jenny," answered Peter sagely, "I wasna 
thinking o' that ; but there may be something in't. 
Maister," added he, addressing the teacher, "ye 
mustna, therefore, be owre hard wi' the laddie. He 
is a fine bairn, though he may be dull — and dull I 
canna think it possible he could be, if he would 
determine to learn." 

Christopher, however, was as wild on the play- 
ground as he was dull and thoughtless in the school- 
room. Every person admired the happy-hearted 
orphan. Good Jenny Thornton said that he had 
been a great comfort to her ; and that all the care 
she had taken over him was more than repaid by the 
kindness and gratitude of his heart. They were 
evident in all he said, and all that he did. Peter also 
loved the boy ; he said " Kit was an excellent laddie — 
for his part, indeed, he never saw his equal. He had 
now brought him up for nine years, and he could 
safely say that he never had occasion to raise a hand 
to him — indeed, he did not remember the time that 
ever he had had occasion to speak an angry word to 
him; and he declared that he should inherit all that 
he possessed, as though he had been his own son." 

Mrs. Thornton often showed to him the rings 
which had been taken from his mother's fingers, with 
the inscriptions thereon ; and on such occasions she 
would say — "Weel do I remember, hinny, when our 



192 



Weird Tales. 



gudeman came running into the house one morning, 
shaking as though he had seen an apparition at mid- 
night, and crying to me, quite out o' breath — ' Rise — 
rise, Jenny ! — here is the dead body o' a woman in 
our stackyard ! ' I canna tell ye what my feelings 
were when he said so. I wished not to believe him. 
But had I wakened, and found myself in a grave, I 
could not have gotten a greater fright. My heart 
louped to my throat, just as if it had gotten a sudden 
jirk with a person's whole might and strength ! I 
dinna ken how I got my gown thrown on, for my 
teeth were chattering in my head — I shaked like a 
'natomy ! And when we did get to the stackyard, 
there was ye, like a dear wee lammie, mourning 
owre the breast o' yer dead mother, wi' yer bits o' 
handies pulling impatiently at her bonny black hair, 
kissing her cold lips, or pulling her by the gown, and 
crying and uttering words which we didna under- 
stand. And, oh, hinny, but your mother had been 
a weel-faured woman in her day ! — I never saw her 
but a cold corpse, and I thought, even then, that I 
had never looked upon a bonnier face. She had 
evidently been a genteel person, but was sore, sore 
dejected. But she had two rings upon her fingers ; 
one of them was a ring such as married women 
wear, the other was set wi' precious stones, which 
those who have seen them say, none but a duchess in 
this country could wear. Ye must examine them." 
And here Mrs. Thornton was in the habit of pro- 
ducing the rings which she had carefully locked 
away, wrapped up in twenty folds of paper, and 
secured in a housewife which folded together within 



The Unknown, 



193 



all. Then she would point out to him the initial 
letters, the C. F. and the M. V., and would add, 
" That has been your faither and your mother's 
name when they were sweethearts — at least so our 
Peter says (and he is seldom wrong) ; but the little 
e t between them — I canna think what it stands for. 
O Christopher, my canny laddie, it is a pity but that 
ye would only endeavour to be a scholar, as ye are 
good otherwise, and then ye might be able to tell 
what the e t means. Who kens but it may throw 
some light upon your parentage ; for, if ever ye 
discover who your parents were, it will be through 
the instrumentality o' these rings. Peter always says 
that (and, as I say, he is seldom wrong), and there- 
fore I always keep them locked away, lest onything 
should come owre them ; and when they are out o* 
the drawer, I never suffer them to be out o' my 
sight." 

In the fulness of her heart Mrs. Thornton told this 
story at least four times in the year, almost in the 
same words, and always exhibiting the rings. Her 
kindly counsels, and the cogent reasons which she 
urged to Christopher why he should become a scholar, 
at length awoke his slumbering energies. For the 
first time, he stood dux of his class, and once there, 
he stood like a nail driven into a wall, which might 
not be removed. His teacher, who was a man of 
considerable knowledge and reading (though perhaps 
not what those calling themselves learned would call 
a man of learning— -for learned is a very vague word, 
and is as frequently applied where real ignorance 
exists, as to real knowledge),— that teacher who had 

S N 



194 



Weird Tales, 



formerly said that Christopher could not be a Spaniard, 
because that he had not solidity enough within him, 
now said that he believed he was one, and not a 
descendant of Don Quixote, but, if anybody, a 
descendant of him who gave the immortal Don "a 
local habitation and a name " ; for he now predicted 
Christopher May would be a genius. 

But though the orphan at length rose to the head 
of his class, and though he passed from one class to 
another, he was still the same wild, boisterous, and 
daring boy, when they ran shouting from the school, 
cap in hand, and waving it over their heads, like 
prisoners relieved from confinement. If there was a 
quarrel to decide in the whole school, the orphan 
Christopher was the umpire. If a weak boy, or a 
cowardly boy, was threatened by another, Christopher 
became his champion. If a sparrow's nest was to be 
robbed, to achieve which a tottering gable was to be 
climbed, he did the deed ; yea, or when a football 
match was to be played on Fastern E'en (or, as it 
was there called, Pancake Tuesday), if the orphan 
once got the ball at his foot, no man could again 
touch it. 

His birthday was not known ; but he could scarce 
have completed his thirteenth year when his best 
friend died. Good, kind-hearted Jenny Thornton — 
than whom a better woman never breathed — was 
gathered with the dead ; and her last request to her 
husband was, that he would continue to be the friend 
and protector of the poor orphan, and especially that 
he would take care of the rings which had been found 
upon his mother's hand. Now, Peter was so over- 



The Unknown. 



J 95 



whelmed with grief at the idea of being parted from 
her who, for ten years, had been dearer to him than 
his own existence, that he could scarce hear her 
dying words. He followed her coffin like a broken- 
hearted man ; and he sobbed over her grave like a 
weaned child on the lap of its mother. But many 
months had not passed when it was evident that the 
orphan Christppher was the only sincere mourner for 
Jenny Thornton. The widower was still in the prime 
and strength of his days, being not more than two and 
forty. He was a prosperous man — one who had had 
a cheap farm and a good one ; and it was believed 
'that Peter was able to purchase the land which he 
rented. Many, indeed, said that the tenant was a 
better man than his master — by a " better man " 
meaning a richer man. 

Fair maidens, therefore, and widows to boot, were 
anxious to obtain the vacant hand of the wealthy 
widower. Some said that Peter would never forget 
Jenny, and that he would never marry again, for that 
she had been to him a wife amongst a thousand ; and 
they spoke of the bitterness of his grief. 

" Ay," said others, " but we ne'er like to see the 
tears run owre fast down the cheeks of a man. They 
show that the heart will soon drown its sorrow. 
Human nature is very frail ; and a thing that we 
thought we would love for ever last year, we find 
that we only occasionally remember that we loved it 
this. If there be a real mourner for the loss of Mrs. 
Thornton, it's the poor, foreign orphan laddie. Peter, 
notwithstanding all his greeting at the grave, will get 
another wife before twelve months go round." 



196 



Weird Tales. 



They who said so were in the right. Poor Jenny 
had not been in her grave eleven months and twenty 
days, when Peter led another Mrs. Thornton from 
the altar. When he had brought her home, he intro- 
duced to her the orphan Christopher. 

"Now dear," said he, "here is a laddie — none 
know whom he belongs to. I found him one morn- 
ing, when he was a mere infant, screaming on the 
breast o' his dead mother. Since then I have brought 
him up. My late wife was very fond o' him — so, 
indeed was I ; and it is my request that ye will be 
kind to him. Here," added he, "are two rings 
which his mother had upon her fingers when I found 
her a cold corpse. Poor fellow, if anything ever 
enable him to discover who his parents were, it will 
be them, though there is but little chance that he ever 
will. However, I have been as a faither to him for 
more than ten years ; and I trust, love, that ye will act 
towards him as a mother. Come forward, Christopher, M 
continued he, "and welcome your new mother." 

The boy came forward hanging his head, and 
bashfully stretched out his hand towards her ; but 
the new-made Mrs. Thornton had his mother's 
jewelled ring in her hand, and she observed him not. 
He stood with his eyes now bent upon the ground, 
now upon her, and again upon his mother's ring, as 
she turned it round and round. 

"Well," said she, addressing her husband, and 
still turning it round as she spoke, " It is, indeed, a 
beautiful ring — a very beautiful ring ! " 

"I am glad ye think so," said he ; " she had been 
a bonny woman that wore it. " 



The Unknown. 197 

She placed the ring upon her ringer, she turned it 
round again, and gazed on it with admiration. " I 
should like to wear such a ring," she added. 

"Why, hinny, and ye may wear it," said Peter; 
"for the ring is mine twenty times owre, whatever 
its value may be, considering what I have done for 
the laddie." 

With an expression of countenance which might be 
described as something between a smile and a blush, 
or, as the people north the Tweed very aptly express 
it, with a "smirk," she slipped the ring upon her 
ringer, saying that it fitted as well as though it had 
been made for her. 

Passion flashed in the eyes of the orphan. His 
"new mother," as Peter styled her, had done what 
poor Jenny never ventured to do. He withdrew his 
hand which he had extended to greet her ; and he 
was turning away sullenly, when his foster-father 
said, " Stop, Christopher, ye must not go away until 
ye have shaken hands with your mother. And he 
turned again, and once more extended to her his 
hand. 

"Well," said she, addressing her husband, and 
putting forth two of her fingers to Christopher, " is 
it really possible that you have brought up this great 
boy? What a trouble he must have been — and 
expense too ! " 

"Oh, you are quite mistaken," said Peter; 
"Christopher never cost us the smallest trouble. I 
have been proud of him and pleased with him, since 
ever I took him under my roof ; and, poor fellow, 
as to the expense that he has cost me, if I never had 



198 



Weird Tales, 



seen his face I wouldna hae been a penny richer 
to-day, but very possibly poorer ; for he has very 
often amused me wi' his drollery, and keepit me in 
the house, when, but for him, I would have been 
down at Ponteland, or somewhere else, getting a 
glass wi' my neighbours." 

Many weeks had not elapsed ere Christopher 
discovered that this protector who was dead had been 
succeeded by a living persecutor. A month had not 
passed when he was not permitted to enter the room 
where the second Mrs. Thornton sat. Before two 
went round, he was ordered to take his meals with 
the servants ; and he could do nothing with which a 
fault was not found. He had often, after scraping 
his shoes for five minutes together, to take them off 
and examine them, before he durst venture into the 
passage leading to the kitchen, which was now the 
only apartment in the house to which he had access. 

Peter Thornton beheld the persecution which his 
adopted son endured ; and he expostulated with his 
better half, that she would treat him more kindly. 
But she answered him that he might have children 
enough of his own to provide for, without becoming 
a father to those of other people. Now, a stripling 
that is in love, generally says and does many foolish 
things which he does not wish to have recalled to his 
recollection after he has turned thirty ; but the middle- 
aged man who is so smitten, invariably acts much 
more foolishly than the stripling. I have smiled to 
see them combing up their few remaining locks, to 
cover their bald forehead, or carefully pulling away 
the gray hairs which appeared about their temples, 



The UnJznown. 199 

and all to appear young in the eyes of some widowed 
or matronly divinity. I do not exactly agree with 
the poet who says — 

u Love never strikes but once, that strikes at all " ; 

for I think, from nineteen to five and twenty, there 
are few men (or women either) who have not felt a 
particular sensation about their hearts which they 
took to be love, and felt it more than once too, and 
which ultimately would have become love but for 
particular circumstances which broke off the acquaint- 
anceship ; and, before five and thirty, we forget that 
such a feeling had existed, and laugh at, or profess to 
have no patience with, those who are its victims. We 
should always remember, however, that it is not easy 
to put an old head upon young shoulders, and think 
of how we once felt and acted ourselves ; and to 
recollect, also, how happy, how miserable, we were 
in those days. Love is an abused word. Elderly 
people turn up their nostrils when they see it in print. 
They will hardly read a book where the word occurs. 
They will fling it away, and cry "Stuff!" But, if 
they would look back upon their days of old, they 
would treat it with more respect. But the second 
love of your middle-aged men and women — call it 
doting, or call it by any other name, but do not call 
it love, for that it is not, and cannot be. Man never 
knows what love is, until he has experienced the 
worth of an affectionate Wife, who for his sake would 
suffer all that the world's ills can inflict. 

Now, Peter Thornton, though not an old man, and 
although his first wife had certainly been dear unto 



200 



Weird Tales. 



him, yet he had a doting fondness for his second 
spouse, who obtained an ascendancy over him, and, 
to his surprise, left him no longer master of his own 
house. 

But she bore to him a son ; and, after the birth of 
the child, his care over Christopher every day 
diminished. The orphan was given over to persecu- 
tion — the hand of every one was raised against him ; 
and, finding that he had now no one to whom he 
could apply for redress, he lifted up his own hand in 
his defence. The serving-maids who ill-treated him, 
soon found him more than their equal ; and to the 
men-servants, when they used him roughly, he shook 
his head, threatening that he would soon be a match 
for them. 

The coldness which Mrs. Thornton had at first 
manifested towards him, soon relapsed into perfect 
hatred. He was taken from the school ; and she 
hourly forced upon him the most menial offices. For 
hours together he was doomed to rock the cradle of 
her child, and was sure of being beaten the moment 
it awoke. Nor was this all — but when friends visited 
her, poor Christopher was compelled to wait at the 
table, at which he had once sat by the side of Jenny 
Thornton, and whoever might be the guests, he was 
first served. She even provoked her husband, until 
he lifted his hand and struck the orphan violently — 
forgetting the proverb, that " they should have light 
hands who strike other people's bairns." The boy 
looked upbraidingly in Peter's face as he struck him 
for the first time, though he uttered no complaint ; 
but that very look whispered to his heart, " What 



The Unknown. 



201 



would Jenny have said had she seen this ? " And 
Peter, repenting of what he did, turned away and 
wept. Yet a sin that is once committed is less 
difficult to commit again, and remorse becomes as an 
echo that is sinking faint. Having, therefore, once 
lifted his hand against the orphan — though he then 
wept for having done so — it was not long until the 
blows were repeated without compunction. 

Christopher, however, was a strange boy, — perhaps 
what some would call a provoking one, — and often, 
when Mrs. Thornton pursued him from the house to 
chastise him, he would hastily climb upon the tops of 
the houses of the farm-servants, and sitting astride 
upon them, nod down to her triumphantly, as with 
threats she shook her hand in his face ; and, smil- 
ing, sing— 

" Loudon's bonny woods and braes." 

But his favourite song on such occasions was the 
following, which, if it be not the exact words that he 
sang, embodies the sentiment — 

Can I forget the woody braes 

Where love and innocence foregather ; 
Where aft, in early summer days, 

I've crooned a sang amang the heather ? 
Can I forget my father's hearth — 

My mother by the ingle spinnin'— 
Their weel-pleased look to see the mirth 

O' a' their bairnies round them rinnin' ? 

It was a waefu' hour to me, 
When I frae them an' love departed : 

The tear was in my mother's ee — 

My father blessed me — broken-hearted ; 



202 



Weird Tales. 



My aulder brithers took my hand, 

The younkers a' ran frae me greetin* ! 
But, waur than this — I couldna stand 
My faithfu' lassie's farewell meetin' ! 

Can I forget her parting kiss, 

Her last fond look and true love token? 
Forget an hour sae dear as this ! 

Forget ! — the word shall ne'er be spoken ! 
Forget ! — na, though the foamin' sea, 

High hills and mony a sweepin' river, 
May lie between their hearth an' me, 

My heart shall be at hame for ever. 

Now, when Christopher was pursued by his perse- 
cutor, he sought refuge on the house-tops, sitting 
upon them much after the fashion of a tailor, and 
carolling the song we have just quoted most merrily. 
Many, indeed, wondered that he, never having 
known the hearth of either a father or a mother, 
should have sung such a song ; but it was so, and the 
orphan delighted to sing it. Yet we often do many 
things for which we find it difficult to assign a reason. 
There was one amusing trait in the character of 
Christopher, and that was, that the more vehemently 
Mrs. Thornton scolded him, and the more bitter her 
imprecations against him became, so while he sat as 
a tailor on the house-top did his song wax louder and 
more loud, and his strain become merrier. We have 
heard women talk of being ready to eat the nails 
from their fingers with vexation ; and on such occa- 
sions Mrs. Thornton was so. But her anger did not 
amend the disposition of Christopher, though it often 
drew down upon him the indignation of her husband. 
It has already been mentioned that he struck him 



The Unknown, 



203 



once ; and, having clone so, he felt no repugnance to 
do it frequently. For it is only the first time that we 
commit a sin that we have the horror of its commis- 
sion before us. The orphan now became like unto 
Ishmael ; for every man's hand was against him, and 
I might say every woman's too. Now, during the 
lifetime of Jenny, he had had everything his own way. 
and whatsoever he said was done ; some said that he 
was a spoiled child, and it was at least evident that 
his humour was never thwarted. This caused him to 
have the more enemies now; and every menial on 
the farm of Peter Thornton became his persecutor. It 
is the common fate of all favourites — to-day they are 
treated with abject adulation, and to-morrow, if the 
sun which shone on them be clouded, no one thinks 
himself too low to look on them with disdain. 

For more than three years Christopher's life 
became a scene of continued martyrdom. He was 
now, however, a tall and powerful young man of 
seventeen ; and many who had been in the habit of 
raising their hands against him, found it discreet to 
do so no more. But Mrs. Thornton was not of this 
number ; she found some cause to lift her hand and 
strike the orphan as often as he came into her pre- 
sence. Even Peter, kind as he once had been, 
treated him almost as cruelly as his wife. It was not 
that he disliked him as she did ; but she had soured 
and fretted his disposition ; and, unconsciously to 
himself, from being the orphan's friend, he became 
his terror and tormentor. 

But one day, when the violence of Mrs. Thornton 
far exceeded the bounds of endurance, Christopher 



204 



Weird Tales, 



turned upon her, and, with the revenge of a Spaniard 
glistening in his eyes, grasped her by the throat. She 
screamed aloud for help, and her husband and the 
farm-servants rushed to her assistance. 

" Back! back ! " exclaimed Christopher — " woman, 
give me the rings ! give me the rings !— they are 
mine, they were my mother's." 

Peter sprang forward and grasped hold of him. 

M Touch me not ! " exclaimed the orphan ; " I will 
be your slave no longer ! Give me the rings — my 
mother's rings ! " 

Peter stood aghast at the manner of the boy. His 
every look, his every action, bespoke desperation. 
He thrust his clenched hand towards Mr. Thornton, 
exclaiming, "Touch me not — the rings are mine — I 
will have them." 

"The meikle mischief confound ye!" exclaimed 
Peter, with a look of half fear and bewilderment, 
" what in a' the world is the matter wi' ye, Chris- 
topher ? — is the laddie out o* his head ? " 

" The rings ! my mother's rings !" cried the orphan; 
and, as he spoke, he grasped more violently the hand 
of Mrs. Thornton. " 

"The like o' that," said Peter, "I never saw in 
my existence. In my opinion, the laddie is no in his 
right judgment." 

But Christopher tore the rings from the hands of 
Mrs. Thornton, exclaiming, " Farewell ! farewell ! " 

"The like o' that," said Peter, in amazement, 
holding up his hands ; "the laddie is surely daft ! — 
follow him, some o' ye ! " 

Mrs. Thornton sank down in hysterics. Her 



The Unknown. 



205 



husband endeavoured to soothe and restore her, and 
the men-servants followed Christopher. But it was 
an idle task. No one had rivalled him in speed of 
foot, and they could not overtake him. 

" The time will come," he cried, as he ran, " when 
Peter Thornton will repent his conduct towards me. 
Follow me not, for the first who shall lay a hand 
upon me shall die." 

The farm-servants who pursued him were awed by 
his manner ; and after following him about a mile, 
turned back. 

" Where can the laddie have gone to?" said Peter; 
"he never took ony o' these fits in Jenny's time. I 
hope, wife, that ye have done nothing to him that ye 
ought not to have done." 

"Me done to him ! " she cried — "ye will bring up 
your beggars, and this is your reward." 

"Mrs. Thornton," answered he, "I am amazed 
and astonished to behold this conduct in Christopher. 
For more than a dozen years he has been an inmate 
beneath my roof ; seldom have I had to quarrel him, 
and never until you became my wife." 

The words between Peter and his better half grew 
loud and angry ; but, instead of describing their 
matrimonial altercations, we shall follow the orphan 
Christopher. 

But before accompanying him in his flight from the 
house of Peter Thornton, we shall go back a few 
years, and take up another part of his history. 

There resided in the neighbourhood in which Chris- 
topher had been brought up one George Wilkinson, 
who had a daughter named Jessie. Christopher and 



206 



Weird Tales, 



Jessie were schoolmates together ; and when the 
other children ran hallooing from the school, they 
walked together, whispering, smiling at each other. 
It was strange that affection should have sprung up 
in such young hearts. But it was so. 

Christopher became the one absorbing thought 
upon which the mind of Jessie dwelt ; and she became 
the day-dream of his being. She was comparatively 
a child when he left the house of his foster-father — so 
was he ; yet, although they became thus early parted, 
they forgot not each other. Young as she was, 
Jessie Wilkinson, lay on her bed and wept for the 
sake of poor Christopher. They indeed might be 
said to be but the tears of a child ; yet they were 
tears which we can shed but once. Young as Jessie 
was, Christopher became the dream of her future 
existence. She remembered the happy days that 
they had passed together when the hawthorn was in 
blossom, or the bean was in the bloom, when they 
loitered together, side by side, and the air was preg- 
nant with fragrance, while his hand would touch 
hers, and he would say "Jessie!" and look in her 
face and wonder what he meant to have said ; and 
she would answer him, "Christopher!" Still did 
those days haunt the recollection of the simple girl ; 
and as she grew in years and stature, his remem- 
brance became the more entwined around her heart. 
When she had reached the age of womanhood, other 
wooers offered her their hand ; but she thought of 
the boy that had first loved her ; and to him her 
memory clung, as the evening dawn falleth on the 
hills. Her father was but a poor man ; and when 



The Unknown. 



207 



many perceived the liking which Christopher May, 
the adopted son and supposed heir of the rich Peter 
Thornton, entertained for her, they said that nothing, 
or, at least no good, would proceed from their 
acquaintance. But they who so said did not truly 
judge of the heart of Jessie. She was one of those 
who can love but once, and that once must be for 
ever. In their early childhood, Christopher had 
become a part of her earliest affection, and she now 
found it impossible to forget him, or shake his remem- 
brance from her bosom. It was certainly a girl's 
love, and elderly people will laugh at it ; but why 
should they laugh ? Had they the feelings which 
they once cherished — the feelings which were once 
dearest to them — the feelings without which they 
believed they could not exist ? — and wherefore could 
they blame poor Jessie for remembering what they 
had forgot ? 

Many years passed, and no one heard of Chris- 
topher. Even Peter Thornton knew nothing of 
where he was, or what had become of him— the child 
of his adoption was lost to him. He heard his neigh- 
bours upbraid him with having treated the boy with 
cruelty ; and Peter's heart was troubled. He reflected 
upon his wife for her conduct towards the orphan, 
and it gave rise to bickerings between them. 

Hitherto we have spoken of the unknown orphan ; 
we must now speak of an unknown soldier. At the 
battle of Salamanca, amongst the men who there 
distinguished themselves, there was a young sergeant, 
whose feats of valour attracted the notice of his 
superiors. Where the battle raged fiercest, there were 



208 



Weird Tales. 



the effects of his arm made visible ; his impetuosit* 
over all his enemies had attracted the notice of his 
superior officers. But in the moment of victory> 
when the streets were lined with dead, the young 
hero fell, covered with bayonet wounds. A field- 
officer, who had been an observer of his conduct, 
ordered a party of his men to attempt his rescue. 
The life of the young hero was long despaired of ; 
and when he recovered, several officers, in admiration 
of his courage, agreed to present him with a sword. 
It was beautifully ornamented, and bore the inscrip- 
tion — 

" Presented to Christopher May y sergeant in the 

regiment of infantry, by several officers who were 
witnesses of the heroism he displayed at the battle of 
Salamanca." 

The sword was presented to him at the head of his 
regiment, and the officer who placed it in his hand 
addressed him, saying : "Young soldier, the gallant 
bearing which you exhibited at Salamanca has excited 
the admiration of all who beheld it. The officers of 
your own regiment, therefore, and others, have 
deemed it their duty to present you with this sword, 
as a reward of merit, and a testimony of the admira- 
tion with which your heroism has inspired them. I 
have now the gratification of placing it in the hands 
of a brave man. Take it, and if your parents yet 
live, it will be a trophy of which they will be proud, 
and which your posterity will exhibit with admira- 
tion." 

"My parents!" said the young soldier, with & 
agh ; "alas, sir! I never knew one whom I could 



The Unknoivn. 209 

call by the endearing name of father or of mother. I 
am an orphan — an unknown one. I believe I am 
not even an Englishman, but a native of the land for 
the freedom of which we now fight ! " 

" You are a Spaniard ! " said the officer with sur- 
prise ; "it is impossible — neither your name nor 
features bespeak you to belong to this nation. But 
you say that ,you never knew your parents— what 
know you of your history ? " 

"Little, indeed," he replied ; and as he spoke, the 
officers gathered around him, and he continued : "I 
have been told that in the month of May, four and 
twenty years ago, the dead body of a woman was 
found in a farm - yard, about fifteen miles north of 
Newcastle. She was dressed in Spanish costume, 
and a child of about three years of age hung weeping 
on her bosom. I was that child ; and I have been 
told that the few words I could then lisp were 
Spanish. The kind-hearted wife of the honest 
Northumbrian who found me brought me up as her 
own child, and while she lived, I might almost have 
said I had a mother. But at her death, I found, 
indeed, that I had neither parent, kindred, nor 
country, but that I was in truth what some called me 
in derision — ' The UnknowitJ I entered the army, 
and have fought in defence of the land to which I 
believe I belong. This only do I know of my his- 
tory, or of who or what I am." 

While the young sergeant spoke, every eye was 
bent upon him interestedly; but there was one 
who was moved even to tears. He was an 
officer of middle age, named Major Ferguson. He 



2IO 



Weird Tales. 



approached the gallant youth, and gazed earnestly in 
his face. 

" You say that you were about three years old," he 
said, "when you were found clinging to the breast of 
your mother : have you no remembrance of her — no 
recollection of the name by which you were then 
called ?" 

"None! none!" answered the other. "I some- 
times fancy that, as the vague remembrance of a 
dream, I recollect clinging round my mother's neck, 
and kissing her cold lips ; but whether it indeed be 
remembrance, or merely the tale that has been often 
told me, I am uncertain. I often imagine, also, that 
her beautiful features yet live in my memory, though 
with the indistinctness of an ethereal being — like a 
vapour that is dying away on the far horizon ; and I 
am uncertain also whether the fair vision that haunts 
me be indeed a dim remembrance of what my mother 
was, or a creation of my brain." 

The interest of the scene was heightened by the 
resemblance which Major Ferguson and the young 
sergeant bore to each other. All observed it — all 
expressed their surprise — and the Major in his turn 
began his tale. 

"Your features, young man," said he, "and your 
story, have drawn tears to the eyes of an old soldier. 
Thirty years ago I was in this country, and became 
an inmate in the house of a rich merchant in Madrid. 
His name was Valdez, and he had an only daughter 
called Maria. When I first beheld her, she was 
about nineteen, and a being more beautiful I had 
never seen — I have not seen. Affection sprang up 



The Unknown. 



211 



between us ; for it was impossible to look on her and 
not love. Her father, though he at first expressed 
some opposition to our wishes, on the ground of my 
being a Protestant, at length gave his consent, and 
Maria became my wife. For several months our 
happiness was a dream — as a summer sky where there 
is no cloud. But our days of felicity were of short 
continuance. We have all heard of the revengeful 
disposition of the Spanish people, and it was our lot 
to be its victims. I have said that it was impossible 
to look upon the face of Maria, and not love ; and 
many of the grandees and wealthiest citizens of Madrid 
sought her hand. Amongst the former was a nephew 
of an Inquisitor. He vowed to have his revenge — 
and he has had it. In the dead of night, a band of 
ruffians burst into the bed-chamber of Maria's father, 
and dragged him to the dungeons of the Inquisition. 
For several weeks we could find out nothing of 
what had become of him ; but his property was 
seized and confiscated, as though he had been a 
common felon. My wife was then the mother of an 
infant son, and I endeavoured to effect our conceal- 
ment, until an opportunity of escaping to England 
might be found. We had approached within a 
hundred yards of the vessel, when a band of armed 
men rushed upon us. They overpowered me ; and 
while one party bore away my wife and child, others 
dragged me into a carnage, one holding a pistol to 
my breast, while another tied a bandage over my 
eyes. They continued to drive with furious rapidity 
for about six hours, when I was torn from the carriage, 
and dragged, between the ruffians, through numer- 



212 



Weird Tales. 



ous winding passages. I heard the grating of locks, 
and the creaking of bolts, as they proceeded. Door 
succeeded door, groaning on their unwilling hinges, 
as they ascended stairs, and descended others, in an 
interminable labyrinth. Still the men who hurried 
me onward maintained a sullen silence ; and no 
sound was heard, save the clashing of prison doors, 
and the sepulchral echo of their footsteps ringing 
through the surrounding dungeons. They at length 
stopped. A cord, suspended from a block in the 
roof, was fastened round my waist ; and when one, 
turning a sort of windlass, which communicated with 
the other end of the cord, raised me several feet from 
the ground, his comrade drew a knife, and cut 
asunder the fastenings that bound my arms. While 
one, holding the handle of the machine, kept me 
hanging in the air, other two applied a key to a large 
square stone in the floor, which, aided by a spring, 
they with some difficulty raised, and revealed a 
yawning opening to a dungeon, yet deeper and more 
dismal than that which formed its entrance. The 
moment my hands were at liberty, I tore the bandage 
from my eyes, and perceiving, through the aid of a 
dim lamp that flickered in a corner of the vault, the 
horror of my situation, I struggled in desperation. 
But my threatenings and my groans were answered 
only by their hollow echoes, or the more dismal 
laughter of my assassins. 

" 1 Down ! down ! ' vociferated both voices to their 
companion, as the stone was raised; and, in a moment, 
I was plunged to the dark mouth of the dungeon. I 
uttered a cry of agony, louder and longer than the 



The Unknown. 



213 



rest ; and, as my body sunk into the abyss, I clutched 
its edge in despair. One of the ruffians sprang for- 
ward, and, blaspheming as he raised his foot, dashed 
his iron heels upon my fingers. Mine was the grasp 
of a dying man ; and, thrusting forward my right 
hand, I seized the ancle of the monster, who, attempt- 
ing to kick me in the face, with my left I strengthened 
my hold, and my body plunging downward with the 
movement, dragged after me the wretch, who, uttering 
a piercing shriek, as his head dashed on the brink of 
the fearful dungeon, his weight wrested him from my 
grasp, and with an imprecation on his tongue he was 
plunged headlong into darkness, many fathoms deep. 
Startled by the cry of his comrade, the other sprang 
from the machine by which he was lowering me into 
the vault ; and I in consequence descended with the 
violence of a stone driven from a strong arm. But, 
before I reached the bottom, the cord by which I was 
hung was expended, and I swung in torture between 
the sides of the dungeon. In this state of agony I 
remained for several minutes, till one of the miscreants 
cutting the rope, I fell with my face upon the bloody 
and mangled body of their accomplice ; and the huge 
stone was placed over us, enveloping both in dark- 
ness, solid and substantial as the pit of wrath itself. 

" A paralysing feeling of horror and surprise, and 
the violence with which I fell upon the mangled body 
of my victim, for a time deprived me of all conscious- 
ness of my situation ; nor was it until the convulsive 
groans of the bleeding wretch beneath me recalled 
me in some measure to a sense of other miseries than 
my own, that a remembrance of the past, and a 



214 



Weird Tales, 



feeling of the present, opened upon my mind, like 
the confused terror of a dismal dream. I rose slowly 
to my feet, and, disengaging myself from the* rope by 
which I was suspended into the vault, endeavoured 
to look around the walls of my prison-house ; but 
all was dark as the grave. Recollecting the part 
sustained in seizing me by the wounded man, who 
still groaned and writhed at my feet, I darted / 
fiercely upon him ; and hurling him from the ground, 
exclaimed, 4 Villain ! tell me or die ! — where am I ? 
or by whom am I brought here ? ' A loud, long yell 
of terror, accompanied by violent and despairing 
struggles, like a wild beast tearing from the paws of 
a lion, was the only answer returned by the miserable 
being. And as the piteous and heart-piercing yell 
rang round the cavern, and its echoes, multiplying in 
darkness, at length died away, leaving silence more 
dolorous than ourselves, I felt as a man from the 
midst of a marriage-feast, suddenly thrust into the 
cells of Bedlam ; where, instead of the music of the 
harp and the lute, was the shriek and the clanking 
chains of insanity ; for bridal ornaments, the mad- 
man's straw ; and for the gay dance, the convulsions 
of the maniac, and the sorrowful gestures of idiocy. 
Every feeling of indignation passed away — my blood 
grew cold — the skin moved upon my flesh— I again 
laid the wretched man on the damp earth, and fear- 
fully groped to the opposite side of the dungeon. 

"As I moved around, feeling through the dense 
darkness of my prison, I found it a vast square, its 
sides composed merely of the rude strata of earth or 
rock ; and measuring nearly six times the length of 



The Unknown, 



my extended arms. As often as I moved, bones 
seemed to crackle beneath my feet ; and a noise, like 
the falling of armour and the sounding of steel, 
accompanied the crumbling fragments. Once I 
stooped to ascertain the cause, and raising a heavy 
body, a part of it fell with a loud, hollow crash among 
my feet, leaving the lighter portion in my hands. 
It was a round bony substance, covered, and partly 
filled, with damp, cold dust. I was neither super- 
stitious nor a coward ; but, as I drew my hand around 
it, my body quivered, the hair upon my head moved, 
and my heart felt heavy. It was the form of a human 
skull. The damp dust had once been the temple of 
a living soul. My fingers entered the sockets of the 
eyes — the teeth fell in my hands— and the still fresh 
and dewy hair twined around it. I shuddered — it 
fell from my hands — the chill of death passed over 
me. The horrid conviction that I was immured in a 
living grave absorbed every other feeling ; and smiting 
my brow in horror, I threw myself, with a groan, 
amidst the dead of other years. 

" I again sprang to my feet, with the undetermined 
and confused wildness of despair. The mournful 
howlings of the assassin continued to render the 
horrid sepulchre still more horrible, and gave to 
its darkness a deeper ghostliness. Dead to every 
emotion of sympathy, stricken with dismal realities, 
and more terrible imaginations, yet burning for 
revenge, directed by the howlings of the miserable 
man, and hesitating to distinguish between them and 
their incessant echoes, stretching my hands before me, 
I again approached him, to extort a confession of the 



2l6 



Weird Tales. 



cause and place of my imprisonment, of rather living 
burial. Vainly I raised him from the ground — 
threatening, soothing, and expostulation were alike 
unavailing. On hearing my voice, the miserable 
being shrieked with redoubled bitterness, plunged 
furiously, and gnashed his teeth, fastening them, in 
the extremity of his frenzy, in his own flesh. His 
fierce agony recalled to my bosom an emotion of 
pity ; and, for a moment, forgetful of my own injuries 
and condition, I thought only of relieving his suffer- 
ing ; but my presence seemed to add new madness to 
his tortures ; and he tore himself from my hold with 
the lamentable yells of a tormented mastiff, and the 
strength of a giant who, in the last throe of expiring 
nature, grapples with his conqueror. He reeled 
wildly a few paces, and fell, with a crash, upon the 
earth. 

" Slowly and dismally the hours moved on, with 
no sound to measure their progress, save the audible 
beating of my own heart, and the death-like howling 
moan of my companion. As I leaned against the 
wall, counting these dismal divisions of time, which 
appeared thus fearfully to mete out the duration of 
my existence, through the black darkness, whose 
weight had become oppressive to my eyeballs, I 
beheld, far above me, on the opposite wall, a faint 
shadow, like the ghost of light, streaking its side, but 
so indistinct and imperfect, I knew not whether it 
was fancy or reality. With the earnestness of death, 
my eyes remained fixed on the ' gloomy light ' ; and 
it threw into my bosom a hope dim as itself. Again 
I doubted its existence — deemed it a creation of my 



The Unknown. 



217 



brain ; and groping along the damp floor, where my 
hand seemed passing over the ribs of a skeleton, I 
threw a loose fragment in the air, towards the point 
from whence the doubted glimmering proceeded ; 
and perceived, for a moment, as it fell, the shadow 
of a substance. Then, springing forward to the spot, 
I gasped to inhale, with its feeble ray, one breath 
that was not agony. 

"Thirst burned my lips, and, to cool them, they 
were pressed against the damp walls of the prison ; 
but my tongue was still dry — my throat parched — 
and hunger began to prey upon me. While thus 
suffering, a faint light streamed from a narrow open- 
ing in the roof of the vault. Slowly a feeble lamp 
was lowered through the aperture, and descended 
within two or three feet of my head. A small basket, 
containing a portion of bread and a pitcher of water, 
suspended by a cord, was let down into the vault. 
I seized the pitcher, as I would have rushed upon 
liberty ; and raising it to my lips, as the pure, grateful 
beverage allayed the fever of my thirst, I shed a 
solitary tear, and, in the midst of my misery, that 
tear was a tear of joy — like the morning-star gilding 
the horizon, when the surrounding heavens are 
wrapped in tempest. With it the feelings of the 
Christian and the man met in my bosom ; and, 
bending over my fellow-sufferer, I applied the water 
to his lips. The poor wretch devoured the draught 
to its last drop with greediness. 

"The presence and the unceasing groans of my 
companion — yea, the dungeon and darkness them- 
selves — were forgotten in the one deadening and 



2l8 



Weird Tales. 



bitter idea, that my wife and child were also captives, 
and in the power of ruffians. If any other thought 
was indulged a moment, it was longing for liberty, 
that I might fly to their rescue — and it was then only 
that I became again sensible of captivity ; and my 
eyes once more sought the dubious gleam that 
stretched fitfully across the wall, becoming more 
evident to perception as I became inured to the 
surrounding blackness. Hope burned and brightened, 
as I traced the source of its dreamy shadows ; and 
from thence weaved plans of escape, which, in the 
calculation of fancy, were already as performed ; 
though, before reason and common possibilities, they 
would have perished as the dewy nets that, with the 
damps of an autumnal morning, overspread the haw- 
thorn with their spangled lacework, and, before the 
rising sunbeam, shrink into nothing. 

' 'But gradually my grief and despair subsided, and 
gave place to the cheering influence of hope, and the 
resolution of attempting my escape ; and I rose to 
eat the bread and drink the water of captivity, to 
strengthen me for the task. For many hours, the 
presence of my companion had been forgotten ; he 
still continued to howl, as one whom the horrors 
of an accusing conscience were withholding from 
the grasp of death ; and I, roused from the reverie 
of my feelings and projects at the sound of his suf- 
ferings, hastened to apply water and morsels of 
bread to the lips of my perishing fellow-prisoner ; 
for bread and water had been lowered into the 
vault. 

" In order to carry my plan of escape into effect, 



The Unknown. 219 

for the first time, aided by the lamp that was sus- 
pended over me, I gazed inquisitively, and with a 
feeling of dismay, around the Golgotha in which I 
was immured. There lay my hideous companion, 
the foam of pain and insanity gurgling from his 
mouth ; beside him the skeleton of a mailed warrior, 
and around, the uncoffined bones of four others, 
partly covered with their armour, and 

1 The brands yet rusted in their bony hands.' 

" Although prepared for such a scene, I placed my 
hands before my eyes, shuddering at the thought of 
becoming as one of those — of being their companion 
while I lived — of lying down by the side of a skeleton 
to die ! The horror of the idea fired anew my 
resolution, and added more than human strength to 
my arm. I again eagerly sought the direction of the 
doubtful gleam, which formerly filled me with hope ; 
and was convinced that from thence an opening 
might be effected, if not to perfect liberty, to a sight 
of the blessed light of heaven, where freedom, I 
dreaded not, would easily be found. Filled with 
determination, which no obstacle could impede, I 
took one of the swords, which had lain by the side 
of its owner, untouched for ages, and with this 
instrument commenced the laborious and seemingly 
impossible task, of cutting out a flight of steps in the 
rude wall, and thereby gain the invisible aperture, 
from which something like light was seen to emanate. 
The ray proceeded from an extreme angle of the 
dungeon, and apparently at its utmost height. The 
materials on which I had to work were chiefly a hard 



220 Weird Tales, 

granite rock, and other lighter, but scarce more 
manageable strata. 

" Several anxious and miserable weeks thus passed 
in sluggish succession. Half of my task was accom- 
plished ; and hope, with impatience, looked forward 
to its completion. I still divided my scanty meals 
with my companion, who, although recovered from 
the bruises occasioned by his fall, was become more 
horrible and fiend-like than before. As his body 
resumed its functions, his mind became the terrible 
imaginings of a guilty conscience. He had either lost 
or forgotten the power of walking upright, and 
prowled, howling around the dungeon on his hands 
and feet ; while his dark bushy beard, and revolting 
aspect, gave him more the manner and appearance of 
a wild beast than a human being. 

" Our portion of food being barely sufficient for the 
sustenance of one, hunger had long been added to the 
list of our sufferings ; but particularly to those of the 
maniac. And, with the cunning peculiar to such 
unfortunates, he watched the return of the basket, 
which was daily lowered with provisions, and frequently 
before I — who, absorbed in the completion of my 
task, forgot or heeded not my jailer's being within 
hearing — could descend to the ground, he would grasp 
the basket, swallow off the water at a draught, and 
hurry with the bread to a corner of the dungeon, thus 
leaving me without food for the next twenty-four 
hours. 

" It was at the period when I had half completed 
my object that my companion, springing, as was his 
wont, upon the basket, before I could approach to 



The Unknown. 



221 



withhold him, I perceived he had drained off the 
contents of a goblet, in which a few drops of a dark 
coloured liquor still remained ; and the pitcher of 
water was untouched. The wretched maniac had 
swallowed the draught but a few minutes, when, 
rolling himself together, his screams and contortions 
became more frightful than before, and increasing in 
virulence for an hour, he lay motionless a few seconds, 
gasping for breath ; and springing suddenly to his 
feet, he gazed wistfully above and around him, with a 
look of extreme agony, and exclaiming, * Heaven 
help me!' he rushed fiercely towards the wall in the 
opposite direction to where I was attempting to effect 
my escape, gave one furious pull at what appeared the 
solid rock, and with a groan, fell back and expired. 

" When the horror occasioned by his death in some 
degree abated, the singularity of the manner in which 
he tore at the wall of the dungeon fixed my attention ; 
and with almost frantic joy I perceived that a portion 
of the hitherto thought impenetrable rock had yielded 
several inches to his dying grasp. I hastily removed 
the body, and pulling eagerly at the unloosed frag- 
ment, it fell upon the ground, a rough unhewn lump 
of granite, leaving an opening of about two feet square 
in the rude rocky wall, from which it was so cut as to 
seem to feeling, and almost appearance, a solid part 
of it. 

"My task was now abandoned. The gleam of 
light, which for weeks was to me an object of such 
intense interest, proceeded from a mere hairbreadth 
cleft in the rock. Taking up a sword which lay upon 
the ground, I drew my body into the aperture formed 



222 



Weird Tales. 



by the removal of the piece of rock ; and creeping 
slowly on my hands and knees, groping with the 
weapon before me, I at length found the winding and 
dismal passage sufficiently lofty to permit me to stand 
erect. I seemed enveloped in an interminable cavern, 
now opening into spacious chambers, clothed with 
crystal ; again losing itself in low passages, or narrow 
chinks of the rock, and suddenly terminating in a 
slippery precipice, beneath which gurgling waters 
were heard to run. Hours and hours passed ; still I 
was groping onward, when I suddenly found my hopes 
cut off by the interposition of a precipice. I probed 
fearfully forward with the sword, but all was an 
unsubstantial void ; I drew it on each side, and there 
it met but the solid walls. I knelt, and reached down 
the sword to the length of my arm, but it touched 
nothing. In agony I dropped the weapon, by its 
sound to ascertain the depth, and, delighted, found 
it did not exceed eight or ten feet. I cautiously slid 
down, and groping around, again placed my hand 
upon the sword. Though my heart occasionally sank 
within me, yet the overcoming of each difficulty lent 
its inspiring aid to overcome its successor. Often 
every hope appeared extinct. Now I ascended, or 
again descended the dropping and crystalled rocks ; 
now crept into openings, which suddenly terminated, 
and turning again, anxiously listened to the sound of 
the rippling water as my only guide. Often, in spite 
of every precaution, I was stunned with a blow from 
the abrupt lowness of the roof, or suddenly plunged 
to the arms in the numerous pools, whose waters had 
been dark from their birth. 



The Unknown, 



223 



" Language cannot convey an idea of the accum- 
mulating horrors of my situation. Struggling with 
suffocation, with a feeling more awful than terror, and 
with despair, the agony of darkness must be experienced 
to be imagined. 

"Still I moved on; and suddenly, when ready to 
sink wearied, fainting, hopeless, the glorious light of 
day streamed upon my sight. I bounded forward 
with a wild shout ; but the magnificent sun, bursting 
from the eastern heavens, blinded my unaccustomed 
gaze. 

" I again found that I was free — but my wife !— my 
child ! — where were they ? It was many years before 
that I learned that the nephew of the Inquisitor who 
had sought her hand, having died, she regained her 
liberty, and fled with our infant son to Scotland, to 
seek the home of her lost husband. Since then I have 
never heard of them again." 

When the Major had thus concluded his narrative 
— "Here," said Christopher, "are two rings which 
were taken from the fingers of my mother — both bear 
inscriptions." 

The old officer gazed upon them. "They were 
hers — my Maria's," he exclaimed; "I myself placed 
them upon her fingers ! Son of my Maria, thou art 
mine ! " 

The Major purchased a commission for his long-lost 
son ; and when peace was proclaimed throughout 
Europe, they returned to Old Scotland together, 
where Christopher gave his sword as a memorial to 
his foster-father, Peter Thornton, and his hand to 
Jessie Wilkinson. 



THE RESCUE. 



Mr. Robert Bruce, originally descended from some 
branch of the ancient family of that name, was born, 
in humble circumstances, about the close of the last 
century, at Dumfries, in the south of Scotland, and 
was bred up to a seafaring life. 

When about thirty years of age, to wit, in the year 
1828, he was first mate on a bark trading between 
Liverpool and St. John's, New Brunswick. 

On one of her voyages bound westward, being then 
some five or six weeks out, and having neared the 
eastern portion of the banks of Newfoundland, the 
captain and mate had been on deck at noon, taking 
an observation of the sun ; after which they both 
descended to calculate their day's work. 

The cabin, a small one, was immediately at the 
stern of the vessel, and the short stairway descending 
to it ran athwart-ships. Immediately opposite to this 
stairway, just beyond a small square landing, was the 
mate's state-room ; and from that landing there were 
two doors, close to each other, the one opening aft 
into the cabin, the other, fronting the stairway, into 
the state-room. The desk in the state-room was in 
the forward part of it, close to the door ; so that any 
one sitting at it and looking over his shoulder could 
see into the cabin. 

The mate, absorbed in his calculation, which did 
224 



The Rescue. 



225 



not result as he expected, varying considerably from 
the dead-reckoning, had not noticed the captain's 
motions. When he had completed his calculations, 
he called out, without looking round, " I make our 
latitude and longitude, so and so. Can that be right ? 
How is yours ? " 

Receiving no reply, he repeated his question, glanc- 
ing over his shoulder and perceiving, as he thought, 
the captain busy writing on his slate. Still no answer. 
Thereupon he rose ; and, as he fronted the cabin-door, 
the figure he had mistaken for the captain raised its 
head and disclosed to the astonished mate the features 
of an entire stranger. 

Bruce was no coward ; but, as he met that fixed 
gaze looking directly at him in grave silence, and 
became assured that it was no one whom he had ever 
seen before, it was too much for him ; and, instead of 
stopping to question the seeming intruder, he rushed 
upon deck in such evident alarm that it instantly 
attracted the captain's attention. " Why, Mr. Bruce," 
said the latter, " what in the world is the matter with 
you?" 

" The matter, sir ? Who is that at your desk ? " 

" No one that I know of." 

" But there is, sir ; there's a stranger there." 

" A stranger ! Why, man, you must be dreaming. 
You must have seen the steward there, or the second 
mate. Who else would venture down without orders?" 

" But, sir, he was sitting in your arm-chair, fronting 
the door, writing on your slate. Then he looked up 
full in my face ; and, if ever I saw a man plainly and 
distinctly in this world, I saw him." 

s P 



226 



Weird Tales, 



"Him! Whom? 5 ' 

"God knows, sir; I don't. I saw a man, and a 
man I had never seen in my life before." 

" You must be going crazy, Mr. Bruce. A stranger, 
and we nearly six weeks out ! " 

" I know, sir ; but then I saw him." 

" Go down and see who it is." 

Bruce hesitated. ' 1 I never was a believer in ghosts, " 
he said ; " but, if the truth must be told, sir, I'd rather 
not face it alone." 

" Come, come, man. Go down at once, and don't 
make a fool of yourself before the crew." 

" I hope you've always found me willing to do what's 
reasonable," Bruce replied, changing colour ; "but if 
it's all the same to you, sir, I'd rather we should both 
go down together." 

The captain descended the stairs, and the mate 
followed him. Nobody in the cabin ! They ex- 
amined the state-rooms. Not a soul to be found ! 

"Well, Mr. Bruce," said the captain, "did not I 
tell you you had been dreaming ? " 

" It's all very well to say so, sir ; but if I didn't see 
that man writing on your slate, may I never see my 
home and family again ! " 

" Ah ! writing on the slate ! Then it should be 
there still." And the captain took it up. 

" By God," he exciaimed, " here's some- 
thing, sure enough ! Is that your writing, Mr. 
Bruce ? 

The mate took the slate ; and there, in plain, legible 
characters, stood the words, " Steer to the nor'- 
west." 



The Rescue. 



227 



11 Have you been trifling with me, sir?" added the 
captain, in a stern manner. 

" On my word as a man and as a sailor, sir," replied 
Bruce, " I know no more of this matter than you do. 
I have told you the exact truth." 

The captain sat down at his desk, the slate before 
him, in deep thought. At last, turning the slate over 
and pushing it toward Bruce, he said, ' ' Write down, 
' Steer to the nor' west. ' " 

The mate complied ; and the captain, after nar- 
rowly comparing the two handwritings, said, " Mr. 
Bruce, go and tell the second mate to come down 
here." 

He came ; and, at the captain's request, he also 
wrote the same words. So did the steward. So, in 
succession, did every man of the crew who could. write 
at all. But not one Of the various hands resembled, 
in any degree, the mysterious writing. 

When the crew retired, the captain sat deep in 
thought. " Could any one have been stowed away?" 
at last he said. " The ship must be searched ; and if 
I don't find the fellow, he must be a good hand at 
hide-and-seek. Order up all hands." 

Every nook and corner of the vessel, from stem to 
stern, was thoroughly searched, and that with all the 
eagerness of excited curiosity, — for the report had 
gone out that a stranger had shown himself on board ; 
but not a living soul beyond the crew and the officers 
was found. 

Returning to the cabin after their fruitless search, 
" Mr. Bruce," said the captain, " what the devil do 
you make of all this ? " 



228 



Weird Tales. 



" Can't tell, sir. / saw the man write ; you see the 
writing. There must be something in it. " 

" Well, it would seem so. We have the wind free, 
and I have a great mind to keep her away and see 
what will come of it." 

" I surely would, sir, if I were in your place. It's 
only a few hours lost, at the worst." 

' 6 Well, we'll see. Go on deck and give the course 
nor'west. And, Mr. Bruce," he added, as the mate 
rose to go, " have a look-out aloft, and let it be a 
hand you can depend on." 

His orders were obeyed. About three o'clock the 
look-out reported an iceberg nearly ahead, and, shortly 
after, what he thought was a vessel of some kind close 
to it. 

As they approached, the captain's glass disclosed 
the fact that it was a dismantled ship apparently 
frozen to the ice, and with a good many human beings 
on it. Shortly after, they hove to, and sent out the 
boats to the relief of the sufferers. 

It proved to be a vessel from Quebec, bound to 
Liverpool, with passengers on board. She had got 
entangled in the ice, and finally frozen fast, and had 
passed several weeks in a most critical situation. She 
was stove, her decks swept, — in fact, a mere wreck ; 
all her provisions and almost all her water gone. 
Her crew and passengers had lost all hopes of being 
saved, and their gratitude for the unexpected rescue 
was proportionately great. 

As one of the men who had been brought away in 
the third boat that had reached the wreck was ascend- 
ing the ship's side, the mate, catching a glimpse of his 



The Rescue. 



229 



face, started back in consternation. It was the very 
face he had seen, three or four hours before, looking 
up at him from the captain's desk. 

At first he tried to persuade himself it might be 
fancy ; but the more he examined the man the more 
sure he became that he was right. Not only the face, 
but the person and the dress, exactly corresponded. 

As soon as the exhausted crew and famished passen- 
gers were cared for, and the bark on her course again, 
the mate called the captain aside. " It seems that 
was not a ghost I saw to-day, sir ; the man's alive.' 

" What do you mean ? Who's alive ? " 

" Why, sir, one of the passengers we have just 
saved is the same man I saw writing on your slate at 
noon. I would swear to it in a court of justice." 

" Upon my word,. Mr. Bruce," replied the captain, 
" this gets more and more singular. Let us go and 
see this man. " 

They found him in conversation with the captain 
of the rescued ship. They both came forward, and 
expressed, in the warmest terms, their gratitude for 
deliverance from a horrible fate, — slow-coming death 
by exposure and starvation. 

The captain replied that he had but done what he 
was certain they would have done for him under the 
same circumstances, and asked them both to step 
down into the cabin. Then, turning to the passenger, 
he said, " I hope, sir, you will not think I am trifling 
with you ; but I would be much obliged to you if you 
would write a few words on this slate." And he 
handed him the slate, with that side up on which the 
mysterious writing was not. " I will do anything 



Weird Tales, 



you ask," replied the passenger ; " but what shall I 
write ? " 

" A few words are all I want. Suppose you write, 
1 Steer to the nor'west.'" 

The passenger, evidently puzzled to make out the 
motive for such a request, complied, however, with a 
smile. The captain took up the slate and examined 
it closely ; then, stepping aside so as to conceal the 
slate from the passenger, he turned it over, and gave 
it to him again with the other side up. 

" You say that is your handwriting?" said he. 

" I need not say so," rejoined the other, looking at 
it, " for you saw me write it." 

"And this?" said the captain, turning the slate 
over. 

The man looked first at one writing, then at the 
other, quite confounded. At last, "What is the 
meaning of this?" said he. " I only wrote one of 
these. Who wrote the other ? " 

" That's more than I can tell you, sir. My mate 
here says you wrote it, sitting at this desk, at noon 
to-day." 

The captain of the wreck and the passenger looked 
at each other, exchanging glances of intelligence and 
surprise ; and the former asked the latter, " Did you 
dream that you wrote on this slate ? " 

" No, sir, not that I remember." 

"You speak of dreaming," said the captain of the 
bark. " What was this gentleman about at noon 
to-day? " 

"Captain," rejoined the other, " the whole thing 
is most mysterious and extraordinary ; and I had 



The Rescue. 231 

intended to speak to you about it as soon as we got 
a little quiet. This gentleman " (pointing to the 
passenger), " being much exhausted, fell into a heavy 
sleep, or what seemed such, some time before noon. 
After an hour or more he awoke, and said to me, 
* Captain, we shall be relieved this very day.' When 
I asked him What reason he had for saying so, he 
replied that he had dreamed that he was on board a 
bark, and that she was coming to our rescue. He 
described her appearance and rig ; and, to our utter 
astonishment, when your vessel hove in sight, she 
corresponded exactly to his description of her. We 
had not put much faith in what he said ; yet still we 
hoped there might be something in it, for drowning 
men, you know, will catch at straws. As it has 
turned out, I cannot doubt that it was all arranged, 
in some incomprehensible way, by an overruling 
Providence, so that we might be saved. To Him be 
all thanks for His goodness to us." 

M There is not a doubt," rejoined the other captain, 
" that the writing on the slate, let it have come there 
as it may, saved all your lives. I was steering at the 
time considerably south of west, and I altered my 
course to nor'west, and had a look-out aloft, to see 
what would come of it. But you say," he added, 
turning to the passenger, " that you did not dream of 
writing on a slate ? " 

"No, sir. I have no recollection whatever of 
doing so. I got the impression that the bark I saw 
in my dream was coming to rescue us ; but how that 
impression came, I cannot tell. There is another 
very strange thing about it," he added. " Every 



232 



Weird Tales. 



thing here on board seems to me quite familiar ; yet I 
am very sure I never was in your vessel before. It is 
all a puzzle to me. What did your mate see ? " 

Thereupon Mr. Bruce related to them all the 
circumstances above detailed. The conclusion they 
finally arrived at was, that it was a special interposi- 
tion of Providence to save them from what seemed a 
hopeless fate. 

The above narrative was communicated to me by 
Captain J. S. Clarke, of the schooner Julia Hallock, 
who had it directly from Mr. Bruce himself. They 
sailed together for seventeen months, in the years 
1836 and 1837 ; so that Captain Clarke had the story 
from the mate about eight years after the occurrence. 
He has since lost sight of him, and does not know 
whether he is yet alive. All he has heard of him 
since they were shipmates is, that he continued to 
trade to New Brunswick, that he became the master 
of the brig Comet, and that she was lost. 

I asked Captain Clarke if he knew Bruce well, and 
what sort of man he was. 

" As truthful and straightforward a man," he 
replied, " as ever I met in all my life. We were as 
intimate as brothers ; and two men can't be together, 
shut up for seventeen months in the same ship, with- 
out getting to know whether they can trust one 
another's word or not. He always spoke of the 
circumstance in terms of reverence, as of an incident 
that seemed to bring him nearer to God and to 
another world. I'd stake my life upon it that he told 
me no lie." 



THE WITCH OF LAGGAN. 

By W. Grant Stewart. 

The most formidable of all the powers conferred on 
a witch consists in the torture and destruction of 
human beings by infernal machination. There are 
various processes by which those hellish practices are 
accomplished, but the most common process is that 
invented and used by that eminent and distinguished 
witch, " Crea Mhoir cun Drochdair" who was burnt 
and worried at a stake at Inverness, about two 
centuries ago, for bewitching and keeping in torment 
the body of the Provost's son. Crea made an effigy 
of clay and other hellish ingredients, into which she 
stuck pins and other sharp instruments. This effigy 
of the Provost's son she placed on a spit at a large 
fire, and by these cantrips the hag communicated 
such agonizing torments to the young gentleman, that 
he must have had speedily fallen a victim to his 
sufferings, had it not been for the happy discovery 
made by means of a little grandchild of Crea Mhoir's, 
who divulged the whole secret to a little companion, 
for the small gratification of a piece of bread and 
cheese. But although Crea, honest woman, was long 
ago disposed of, to the great comfort and satisfaction 
of her countrymen, who naturally enough ascribed to 
her all the calamities which happened in the country 
during her lifetime, she left behind her the immortal 
fruits of her genius, for the benefit of her black 
233 



234 



Weird Tales. 



posterity, in those mischievous inventions practised 
by the witches of latter times, who understand the 
knack of torturing their unhappy contemporaries in 
all its branches, as exemplified in the cases of several 
worthies noticed in the sequel. 

The next important power of a witch and a warlock 
consists in their control over air and water, whereby 
they raise most dreadful storms and hurricanes by sea 
and by land, and thus accomplish the destruction of 
many a valuable life, which otherwise might have been 
long spared. The following account of the loss of a 
most excellent gentleman exhibits too melancholy an in- 
stance of the success of their experiments in this way : — 

"John Garve Macgillichallum of Razay was an 
ancient hero of great celebrity. Distinguished in the 
age in which he lived for the gallantry of his exploits, 
he has often been selected by the bard as the theme 
of his poems and songs. Alongst with a constitution 
of body naturally vigorous and powerful, Razay was 
gifted with all those noble qualities of the mind which 
a true hero is supposed to possess. And what 
reflected additional lustre on his character, was that 
he never failed to apply his talents and powers to the 
best uses. He was the active and inexorable enemy 
of the weird sisterhood, many of whom he was the 
auspicious instrument of sending to their * black 
inheritance ' much sooner than they either expected 
or desired. It was not therefore to be supposed, 
that, while those amiable actions endeared Razay to 
all good people, they were at all calculated to win 
him the regard of those infernal hags to whom he 
was so deadly a foe. As might be naturally expected, 



The Witch of Laggan. 235 

they cherished towards him the most implacable thirst 
of revenge, and sought, with unremitting vigilance, 
for an opportunity of quenching it. That such an 
opportunity did unhappily occur, and that the medi- 
tated revenge of these hags was too well accomplished, 
will speedily appear from this melancholy story. 

" It happened upon a time that Razay and a 
number of friends planned an expedition to the island 
of Lewis, for the purpose of hunting the deer of that 
place. They accordingly embarked on board the 
chieftain's yacht, manned by the flower of the young 
men of Razay, and in a few hours they chased the 
fleet-bounding hart on the mountains of Lewis. 
Their sport proved excellent. Hart after hart, and 
hind after hind, were soon levelled to the ground by 
the unerring hand of Razay ; and when night termi- 
nated the chase, they retired to their shooting 
quarters, where they spent the night with joviality 
and mirth, little dreaming of their melancholy fate 
in the morning. 

" In the morning of next day, the chief of Razay 
and his followers rose with the sun, with the view of 
returning to Razay. The day was squally and 
occasionally boisterous, and the billows raged with 
great violence. But Razay was determined to cross 
the channel to his residence, and ordered his yacht to 
prepare for the voyage. The more cautious and less 
courageous of his suite, however, urged on him to 
defer the expedition till the weather should some- 
what settle, — an advice which Razay, with a courage 
which knew no fear, rejected, and expressed his firm 
determination to proceed without delay. Probably 



236 



Weird Tales. 



with a view to inspire his company with the necessary 
degree of courage to induce them all to concur in 
the undertaking, he adjourned with them to the ferry- 
house, where they had recourse to that supporter of 
spirits under every trial, the usquebaugh, a few bottles 
of which added vastly to the resolution of the com- 
pany. Just as the party were disputing the practica- 
bility of the proposed adventure, an old woman, with 
wrinkled front, bending on a crutch, entered the 
ferry-house ; and Razay, in the heat of argument, 
appealed to the old woman, whether the passage of 
the channel on such a day was not perfectly practi- 
cable and free from danger. The woman, without 
hesitation, replied in the affirmative, adding such 
observations, reflecting on their courage, as imme- 
diately silenced every opposition to the voyage ; and, 
accordingly the whole party embarked in the yacht 
for Razay. But, alas ! what were the consequences ? 
No sooner were they abandoned to the mercy of the 
waves than the elements seemed to conspire to their 
destruction. All attempts to put back the vessel 
proved unavailing, and she was speedily driven out 
before the wind in the direction of Razay. The 
heroic chieftain laboured hard to animate his com- 
pany, and to dispel the despair which began to seize 
them, by the most exemplary courage and resolution. 
He took charge of the helm, and in spite of the 
combined efforts of the sea, wind, and lightning, he 
kept the vessel steadily on her course towards the 
lofty point of Aird, in Skye. The drooping spirits of 
his crew began to revive, and hope began to smile upon 
them, — when lo ! to their great astonishment, a large 



The Witch of Laggan. 237 

cat was seen to climb the rigging. This cat was soon 
followed by another of equal size, and the last by a 
successor, until at length the shrouds, masts, and 
whole tackle were actually covered with them. Nor 
did the sight of all those cats, although he knew 
well enough their real character, intimidate the 
resolute Razay, 'until a large black cat, larger than 
any of the rest, appeared on the mast-head, as 
commander-in-chief of the whole legion. Razay, on 
observing him, instantly foresaw the result ; he, how- 
ever, determined to sell his life as dearly as possible, 
and immediately commanded an attack upon the 
cats ; but, alas ! it soon proved abortive. With a 
simultaneous effort the cats overturned the vessel on 
her leeward wale, and every soul on board was 
precipitated into a watery grave. Thus ended the 
glorious life of fan Garbh Macgillichallum of Razay, 
to the lasting regret of the brave clan Leod and all 
good people, and to the great satisfaction of the 
abominable witches who thus accomplished his 
lamentable doom. 

"The same day, another hero, celebrated for his 
hatred of witchcraft, was wanning himself in his 
hunting hut, in the forest of Gaick, in Badenoch. 
His faithful hounds, fatigued with the morning 
chase, lay stretched on the turf by his side,— his 
gun, that would not miss, reclined in the neuk of the 
bothy, — the skian dhu of the sharp edge hung by his 
side, and these alone constituted his company. As 
the hunter sat listening to the howling storm as it 
whistled by, there entered at the door an apparently- 
poor weather-beaten cat, shivering with cold, and 



2 3 8 



Weird Tales, 



drenched to the skin. On observing her, the hairs 
of the dogs became erected bristles, and they imme- 
diately rose to attack the pitiable cat, which stood 
trembling at the door. * Great hunter of the hills,' 
exclaims the poor-looking trembling cat,' I claim 
your protection. I know your hatred to my craft, 
and perhaps it is just. Still spare, O spare a poor 
jaded wretch, who thus flies to you for protection 
from the cruelty and oppression of her sisterhood.' 
Moved to compassion by her eloquent address, and 
disdaining to take advantage of his greatest enemy in 
such a seemingly forlorn situation, he pacified his 
infuriated dogs, and desired her to come forward to 
the fire and warm herself. 1 Nay,' says she, ' in the 
first place, you will please bind with this long hair 
those two furious hounds of yours, for I am afraid 
they will tear my poor hams to pieces. I pray you, 
therefore, my dear sir, that you would have the good- 
ness to bind them together by the necks with this 
long hair.' But the curious nature of the hair in- 
duced the hunter to dissemble a little. Instead of 
having bound his dogs with it, as he pretended, he 
threw it across a beam of wood which connected the 
couple of the bothy. The witch then, supposing 
the dogs securely bound, approached the fire, and 
squatted herself down as if to dry herself. She had 
not sitten many minutes, when the hunter could 
easily discover a striking increase in her size, which 
he could not forbear remarking in a jocular manner to 
herself. * A bad death to you, you nasty beast,' says 
the hunter; 'you are getting very large.' 'Ay, 
ay,' replied the cat equally jocosely, 'as my hairs 



The Witch of Laggan. 239 

imbibe the heat, they naturally expand.' These 
jokes, however, were but a prelude to a more serious 
conversation. The cat still continuing her growth, 
had at length attained a most extraordinary size, — 
when, in the twinkling of an eye, she transformed 
herself into her proper likeness of the Goodwife of 
Laggan, and thus addressed him : 1 Hunter of the 
Hills, your hour of reckoning is arrived. Behold 
me before you, the avowed champion of my 
devoted sisterhood, of whom Macgillichallum of 
Razay and you were always the most relent- 
less enemies. But Razay is no more. His last 
breath is fled. He lies a lifeless corpse on the 
bottom of the main ; and now, Hunter of the Hills, 
it is your turn.' With these words, assuming a most 
hideous and terrific appearance, she made a spring at 
the hunter. The two dogs, which she supposed 
securely bound by the infernal hair, sprung at her in 
her turn, and a most furious conflict ensued. The 
witch, thus unexpectedly attacked by the dogs, now 
began to repent of her temerity. ' Fasten, hair, 
fasten,' she perpetually exclaimed, supposing the dogs 
to have been bound by the hair ; and so effectually 
did the hair fasten, according to her order, that it 
at last snapt the beam in twain. At length, finding 
herself completely overpowered, she attempted a 
retreat, but so closely were the hounds fastened in 
her breasts, that it was with no small difficulty she 
could get herself disengaged from them. Screaming 
and shrieking, the Wife of Laggan dragged herself 
out of the house, trailing after the dogs, which were 
fastened in her so closely, that they never loosed 



240 



Weird Tales. 



their hold until she demolished every tooth in their 
heads. Then metamorphosing herself into the like- 
ness of a raven, she fled over the mountains in the 
direction of her home. The two faithful dogs, 
bleeding and exhausted, returned to their master, 
and, in the act of carressing his hand, both fell down 
and expired at his feet. Regretting their loss with a 
sorrow only known to the parent who weeps over the 
remains of departed children, he buried his devoted 
dogs, and returned home to his family. His wife 
was not in the house when he arrived, but she soon 
made her appearance. 1 Where have you been, my 
love?' inquired the husband. * Indeed,' replies she, 
' I have been seeing the Goodwife of Laggan, who 
has been just seized with so severe an illness, that 
she is not expected to live for any time.' 'Ay! 
ay ! ' says he, * what is the matter with the worthy 
woman ? ' ' She was all day absent in the moss at 
her peats, ' replies the wife, * and was seized with a 
sudden colic, in consequence of getting wet feet ; and 
now all her friends and neighbours are expecting her 
demission.' * Poor woman,' says the husband,' 'I 
am sorry for her. Get me some dinner ; it will be 
right that I should go and see her also.' Dinner 
being provided and despatched, the hunter imme- 
diately proceeded to the house of Laggan, where he 
found a great assemblage of neighbours mourning, 
with great sincerity, the approaching decease of a 
woman whom they all had hitherto esteemed virtuous. 
The hunter, walking up to the sick woman's bed in a 
rage, proportioned to the greatness of its cause, 
stripped the sick woman of all her coverings. A 



The Witch of Laggan. 241 

shriek from the now exposed witch brought all the 
company around her. * Behold/ says he, 1 the object 
of your solicitude, who is nothing less than an 
infernal witch. To-day, she informs me, she was 
present at the death of the Laird of Razay, and 
only a few hours have elapsed since she attempted to 
make me share his fate. This night, however, she 
shall expiate her crime, by the forfeiture of her horrid 
life.' Relating to the company the whole circum- 
stances of her attack upon him, which were too well 
corroborated by the conclusive marks she bore on her 
person, the whole company were perfectly convinced 
of her criminality ; and the customary punishment 
was about to be inflicted on her, when the miserable 
wretch addressed them" as follows : ' My ill-requited 
friends, spare an old acquaintance, already in the 
agonies of death, from any further mortal degradation. 
My crimes and my folly now stare me in the face, 
in their true colours ; while my vile and perfidious 
seducer, the enemy of your temporal and spiritual 
interests, only laughs at me in my distress ; and, as a 
reward for my fidelity to his interest, in seducing 
every thing that was amiable, and in destroying every 
thing that was good, he is now about to consign my 
soul to eternal misery. Let my example be a warning 
to all the people of the earth to shun the fatal rock 
on which I have split ; and as a strong inducement 
for them to do so, I shall atone for my iniquity to the 
utmost of my ability, by detailing to you the awful 
history of my life.' Here the Wife of Laggan de- 
tailed at full length the way she was seduced into the 
service of the Evil One, — all the criminal adventures 
s Q 



242 



Weird Tales. 



in which she had been engaged, and ended with a 
particular account of the death of Macgillichallum of 
Razay, and her attack upon the hunter, and then 
expired. 

" Meanwhile, a neighbour of the Wife of Laggan 
was returning home late at night from Strathdearn, 
where he had been upon some business, and had just 
entered the dreary forest of Monalea, in Badenoch, 
when he met a woman dressed in black, who ran 
with great speed, and inquired of the traveller, with 
great agitation, how far she was distant from the 
churchyard of Dalarossie, and if she could be there 
by twelve o'clock. The traveller told her she might, 
if she continued to go at the same pace that she did 
then. She then fled alongst the road, uttering the 
most desponding lamentations, and the traveller 
continued his road to Badenoch. He had not, how- 
ever, walked many miles when he met a large black 
dog, which travelled past him with much velocity, as 
if upon the scent of a track or footsteps ; and soon 
after he met another large black dog sweeping along 
in the same manner. The last dog, however, was 
scarcely past, when he met a stout black man on a 
fine fleet black courser, prancing along in the same 
direction after the dogs. ' Pray/ says the rider to 
the traveller, ' did you meet a woman as you came 
along the hill ? ' The traveller replied in the affirma- 
tive. ' And did you meet a dog soon after ? 1 rejoined 
the rider. The traveller replied he did. 'And,' 
added the rider, 'do you think the dog will over- 
take her ere she can reach the church of Dalarossie ? ' 
* He will, at any rate, be very close upon her heels,' 



The Witch of Laggan. 243 

answered the traveller. Each then took his own 
way. But before the traveller had got the length of 
Glenbanchar, the rider overtook him on his return, 
with the foresaid woman before him across the bow of 
his saddle, and one of the dogs fixed in her breast, 
and another in her thigh. ' Where did you overtake 
the woman ? ' inquired the traveller. * Just as she 
was entering the churchyard of Dalarossie,' was his 
reply. On the traveller's return home, he heard of 
the fate of the unfortunate Wife of Laggan, which 
soon explained the nature of the company he had 
met on the road. It was, no doubt, the spirit of the 
Wife of Laggan flying for protection from the infernal 
spirits (to whom she had sold herself), to the church- 
yard of Dalarossie, which is so sacred a place, that a 
witch is immediately dissolved from all her ties with 
Satan, on making a pilgrimage to it, either dead or 
alive. But it seems the unhappy Wife of Laggan was 
a stage too late. " 



ALLAN MACTA VISITS FISHING. 



By the Author of " Three Nights in a 
Lifetime." 

In a secluded nook of one of the wildest and most 
solitary parts of the Argyllshire coast, where it is 
washed by the Atlantic waters, there stood, some 
thirty years ago, the cottage of a Highland fisherman, 
whom we shall name Allan MacTavish. Its appear- 
ance was nearer that of the neat and carefully kept 
abodes of the peasantry on a Lowland gentleman's 
estate, than the slovenly hut of a northern fisherman. 
Some pains had been taken to form a little garden 
beside it, at the sheltering foot of the cliff ; and these 
pains — screened as it was from all high winds, even 
from those blowing off the sea, at least in ordinary 
weather — had been attended with considerable success. 
Everything around the door was kept in extreme 
order ; and the narrow strip of grass on which the sand 
had not encroached, served as a little bleaching-green 
to the fisherman's young and lovely Lowland wife, on 
which she was often to be seen spreading out her 
clothes, with her baby laid upon the grass beside her, 
while awaiting the return of her husband from his 
fishing; at which time it was her usual custom to 
repair to the beach, in order to assist him in carrying 
up his nets to the house. 

Margaret Weir, the young wife of Allan, loved her 
244 



Allan MacTavisKs Fishing. 245 

husband with a depth and intensity of affection which 
had led her to do as she had done — to violate filial 
duty for his sake ; but which could not teach her to 
forget the fault she had committed, or the parent 
whom she had deserted ; and the consciousness of 
her disobedience was with her in her happiest hour, to 
sink her heart as with a weight of lead. She was the 
only child of a wealthy farmer, originally from Ayr- 
shire, who had come during his daughter's childhood, 
immediately after the death of his wife, to settle in 
Stirlingshire, not far from the Bridge of Allan. 
Andrew Weir was one of those who still retain, 
almost in all their original strictness, the peculiar 
tenets and ideas of the Cameronians, of whom there 
are many to be found at the present day in the wild 
and lonely districts of the south - western part of 
Scotland. His notions of family discipline, and of 
strict seclusion from those who held a different 
doctrine from his own, were extremely rigid ; yet, 
notwithstanding these, the affection which he had 
borne his daughter was very great, — nor had the 
harmony subsisting between them ever experienced 
any interruption, until the arrival of Allan MacTavish 
near their place of residence ; and his subsequent 
acquaintance with Margaret, first broke in upon the 
calm tenor of her life, by introducing sensations to 
which her heart had never before been awakened. 
The intimacy of his daughter with the young High- 
lander had continued for a considerable time ere 
Andrew Weir became aware of it ; for Margaret knew 
her father's prejudices too well to dare make him 
acquainted with her lover. It came to his knowledge 



246 



Weird Tales. 



by accident, and his anger was proportionably great. 
In common with many of his countrymen, Andrew 
entertained an extreme dislike to Highlanders, which 
dislike, in the present instance, received tenfold con- 
firmation from the circumstance of MacTavish being 
a Catholic. He would have considered himself as 
signing the warrant for his daughter's eternal perdi- 
tion, had he not instantly forbidden all intercourse 
between them. 

At this juncture, Allan's foster-brother died, and 
left him a small legacy ; but with his death, at the 
some time ceased all the reasons for Allan's remaining 
absent from his own country. He contrived an 
interview with Margaret ere he should depart. It 
is needless to linger on an oft - told tale. The 
struggle between filial affection and all-powerful love 
in the heart of the unsophisticated girl, was severe 
and long continued ; while the religious feelings in 
which she had been educated, contributed to swell the 
amount of reluctance and of terror with which she 
contemplated the step to which she was urged. But 
love at last prevailed. Margaret fled from her father's 
house with her lover. They instantly proceeded to 
Edinburgh, where they were marrried by a Catholic 
priest ; and then sought the lonely solitudes of Allan's 
old Argyllshire mountains. But Margaret — so strict 
had been the filial obedience in which she was brought 
up, so severe the religious faith of her youth — could 
not find happiness the portion of her married life 
notwithstanding all the kindness of her husband, the 
loveliness of her infant, and the peacefulness of her 
home. The image of her gray-haired father going 



Allan MacTavisKs Fishing. 247 

down in his sorrow to a lonely grave, mourning, in 
bitterness of heart the sin and the falling-away of his 
only child, was ever before her eyes. She concealed 
from her husband the remorse which embittered her 
happiness ; but often, when his boat was on the sea, 
and she was alcme in her little dwelling with her 
infant, — not a sight or a sound of a human being 
near, — nothing but the sea birds screaming from the 
cliffs, and the sea making wild music to their song, as 
it plashed and roared against the rocks that shut out 
the cove from the world — often at such an hour, 
would Margaret look back to the image of the cheer- 
ful farm-house in the green sunny holm by Allan 
water ; — to the blazing ingle, by whose side stood her 
old father's chair, — to the venerable form of that now 
forsaken father, as he opened "the big Ha' Bible," 
to begin the evening worship ; while she sat by his 
side, and the farm-servants formed a circle around. 
Alas ! her accustomed seat was empty now. The 
name of the undutiful daughter was heard no more in 
the dwelling of her childhood. Had she indeed still 
a father ? or had her guilty desertion not broken his 
heart, and sent him to a death-bed which no filial 
hand had smoothed ? Then would she press her baby 
to her heart, while the tears of bitter and fruitless 
repentance fell on its innocent face, and pray to God 
that her sin might not be visited on it ; nor be 
punished in her own person by a like instance of 
ingratitude in her own child. The return of her 
beloved husband might for a time dispel these miser- 
able thoughts ; but still they came again when he left 
her — sometimes even when he was by her side. And 



248 



Weird Tales. 



when, as often happened, his boat was out in rough 
and tempestuous weather, the anxiety and the terror 
of poor Margaret were indeed terrible. She seemed 
ever haunted by some mysterious dread of punishment 
through the means of her warmest affections — her hus- 
band or her child. 

There came a bright sunny day in April, when the 
sun set calmly and cloudlessly, leaving a long train of 
light over the sea. Allan MacTavish went to his bed 
at sunset, bidding his wife awake him at eleven at 
night. It would be high tide in about an hour after 
that time, when his boat would be most easily floated 
off ; and he, in company with the fishermen who lived 
in the neighbouring cottages, farther along the coast, 
were then to depart upon their expedition. Margaret 
determined accordingly to sit up until that hour, in 
order to obviate any danger of not waking in proper 
time, had she laid down to sleep. But as the night 
darkened in, and all became stillness and silence in 
the cottage, an unwonted drowsiness crept over her ; 
in spite of all her efforts, her eyes closed — thoughts 
wavered before her mind in confusion and shapeless 
forms, till they gradually melted away into dreams ; 
and leaning her head upon a chair beside the low stool 
on which she had seated herself, she sank into a 
profound sleep. 

When at last she opened her eyes, which was with 
a sudden start, she perceived her husband standing on 
the floor, and nearly dressed. Casting her eyes towards 
a silver watch (the gift of Allan's foster-brother), which 
hung upon the wall, she perceived by the fire-light 
that it was after eleven ; and hastily rose from her 



Allan MacTavisWs Fishing. 249 



seat, in that confusion of ideas which attends a hurried 
awakening from sleep. 

" Margaret, dear," said her husband kindly, 
"what for did ye stay out of bed? I never knew it 
till I wakened, and saw ye sleeping there." 

M Have I no' been i' my bed ? " exclaimed Margaret, 
as she looked around her. " Ou, ay, I mind it a' noo. 
I just fell asleep sittin' aside the fire. An', Allan, 
whar are ye gaun e'en noo ? " 

"Where am I gaun?" returned Allan. "Where 
would I be gaun? Ye'er no awake yet, Margaret, 
dear. I'm for the boat, lass. " 

"The boat!" almost shrieked Margaret, as the 
recollection seemed to rush upon her ; " the boat ! 
Oh no, Allan, ye maurtna' gang the nicht ! No the 
nicht, Allan. Ye maunna gang ! " 

" Not gang to-night ! " exclaimed he in astonish- 
ment. " And what for no? — I must gang in half an 
hour's time. And gang ye to your bed, hinny, and 
tak' a sleep." 

" Oh, Allan," said Margaret, bursting into tears, 
" be guided by me, and tak' na' the boat the nicht, or 
we'se a' rue it." 

" What's the matter, Margaret?" anxiously inquired 
he. " What's pitten that in yer head ?" 

" I had a dream e'en now, Allan," sobbed Margaret, 
" that warned me no to let ye gang. I fell asleep, and 
I dreamed that I was sittin' here, i' the ingle-neuk, an' 
on a sudden the door opened, and my auld faither 
cam' ben, and stood afore me ; there whaur you're 
stannin', Allan. An' I thocht he leukit gey an' stern- 
ways at me; an' says he, * Margaret,' says he, * tell 



250 



Weird Tales. 



your husband to bide at hame the nicht, and no gang 
to the fishin', or ye'il maybe rue it when ye canna' 
mend it.' And wi' that he turned roun', and gaed 
awa' again, or ever I had pooer to speak till him ; an* 
I startit up, and waukenet wi' the fricht. But do, 
Allan ! " and Margaret again burst into a flood of 
weeping : U it's na' for nocht that I've seen the auld 
man this nicht. Be ruled by the warnin' he gied me, 
and dinna gang to the fishin'." 

"Hoots, bairn," exclaimed her husband, "your 
father liked na' me. It was mair like he wad warn ye 
no' to let me gang, to hinder me from some good than 
from ill. No, no, Margaret dear, gang I must, this 
night." 

Margaret again wept, wrung her hands, and implored 
her husband not to go. But superstitious as every 
Highlander is, on this night it appeared that his wife's 
mysterious dream made no impression upon Allan 
MacTavish. His spirits, on the contrary, had seldom 
seemed so high or so excited. He led Margaret to the 
door ; — showed her the calm, clear sky, brilliant with 
stars, and the full spring-tide coming so tranquilly into 
the little bay ; — asked her with a kiss, if this were a 
night to let a dream frighten him from his fishing; and 
without awaiting further remonstrance, strode to the 
place where his boat was moored ; and as he pushed it 
from the shore, turned his head, once more to utter a 
light and laughing farewell. " Gang to your bed, my 
bonny Peggy," he said, " and be up belyve the morn, 
to see the grand boat-load o' fish that I'll bring ye 
back." 

Margaret stood upon the shore and watched his boat 



Allan MacTavisJt s Fishing. 251 

as it doubled the headland, until, through the darkness, 
her straining eye could no longer discern it ; heedless 
the while of the still advancing tide, that now laved 
her feet. She dried her tears, and looked up to the 
calm heaven, where not a cloud obscured the dark- 
blue bosom of night ; till at last, half reassured by 
her husband's cheerful anticipations, half cheered 
by the serene aspect of the weather, she returned to 
the cottage, and after commending him in a fervent 
prayer to the protection of Heaven, she replenished 
the fire with peats, and lay down beside her child, 
where in a short time she fell into a tranquil sleep. 

How long Margaret had slept she knew not ; but it 
could not have been very long, for, except the fitful 
flashes of the fire-light, all was darkness in the cottage, 
when she was suddenly awakened by a loud and pro- 
longed sound. She started up in bed, and listened, 
in an agony of apprehension that almost froze the 
blood in her veins. It was no dream, — no delusion, 
— she distinctly heard the loud wild howling of the 
awakened blast, raging overhead as though it would 
tear off the very roof of the cottage, and scatter it in its 
fury. She had sunk to sleep when all was stillness on 
earth and in heaven. She woke to a tumult as awful, 
as though all the winds had at once been set free 
from their cave, and despatched to waste their wrath 
upon the vexed bosom of the sea. But, deeper and 
more awful than the winds, there came another sound 
— the raging of the waters, as they rose in their might, 
and dashed themselves with a loud booming roar upon 
the cliffs. Margaret sprang from her bed, and, un- 
dressed as she was, rushed to the cottage door. The 



252 



Weird Tales. 



instant she raised the latch, the force of the tempest 
clashed it open against the wall. She looked out into 
the night. A pitchy darkness now brooded over all 
things ; every star seemed blotted from the face of 
heaven ; but dimly through the gloom she could descry 
the white crests of the waves, as they surged and lashed 
the beach within a few yards of the cottage door. The 
tide had risen to a height almost unexampled on that 
coast, beneath the influence of a vernal storm ; it had 
far overpassed its usual limits within the Cove of Craig- 
navarroch ; and on the rocks, beyond which it could 
not go, it was breaking high, — high overhead, — with a 
noise like thunder. Never was change in the weather 
more sudden and more complete. Margaret stood for 
a minute in speechless horror and dismay ; then, rush- 
ing back into the cottage, she fell upon her knees, and 
held up her hands to heaven. " Lord God ! " she 
exclaimed — " have mercy ! have mercy ! " She could 
not utter another word. She hid her face in her hands, 
and sobbed in agony. 

Still the tempest raged, and the waves roared 
on. Margaret dressed herself, and carefully covered 
her infant, whose sweet sleep was unbroken by the 
fearful tumult. Again she went to the door, and 
stood, looking into the night, regardless of the 
wind, which drove a heavy rain against her face. 
She strained her ears to distinguish some sound, — 
some cry, — amid the pauses of the hurricane. As 
well might she have striven to distinguish the low 
music of the woodland bird, as the wildest shriek 
that ever broke from the lips of despair and anguish, 
in the midst of an uproar of the elements like that 



Allan MacTavisfts Fishing. 253 



through which she had dreamt of hearing it. But 
those from whom that sound must have come, were 
far — far beyond where her ear could catch their 
voices. 

She closed the door, returned into the room, and 
knelt down again on the floor, burying her face and 
closing her ears, as if to shut out the noise of the 
tempest ; while her whole frame shook with the 
gasping sobs which brought no tears to relieve her ; 
and at every fresh howl of the blast, she shuddered 
and her limbs shrank closer together. She tried to 
pray, — but the words died upon her lips. She could 
not speak ; — she could not even think ; — she only 
felt as though she were all one nerve — one thrilling 
nerve — quivering beneath repeated and torturing 
pangs. 

On a sudden the wind sunk, — completely sunk. 
For the space of three minutes there was not a 
breath heard to blow. Margaret raised her head, 
and listened. All was still. She was about to spring 
from the ground, when back — back it came again, 
— the hideous burst — the roaring bellow of the 
augmented hurricane, as though it had gained strength 
and fierceness from its brief repose ! Back it came — 
shaking the very cottage walls, and rattling the door 
and little window as though it would burst them 
open ; and Margaret flung herself forward again 
with a wild shriek, and clasped her hands over her 
ears again, to deaden the sound. 

Then she started from the ground, as a thought 
struck her, which seemed to bring some faint gleam 
of hope. "I kenna whan the storm began," said 



254 



Weird Tales. 



she to herself. " He may never hae won farrer nor 
the houses ayont the craigs yonder ; — or they mae hae 
pitten back in time to get ashore there ; and he'll be 
bidin' the mornin's licht, and the fa'in' o' the wind, 
or he come back here again. Oh ay, that'll just be 
it ! Surely — surely that'll be it," she repeated, as if 
to assure herself of the truth of what she said. She 
took down the watch from the nail on which it hung, 
and looked at it by the fire-light. The hand pointed 
to half-past two. " Oh ! will it never be day ? — 
will it never be licht again ? " she exclaimed as she 
replaced it, " that I may win yont the craigs, and see 
gin he be there." She went again to the door. All 
was darkness still, and wild uproar without. No 
gleam of light to announce the far distant dawn. A 
fresh burst of wind drove her back. " Oh ! " she 
exclaimed, wringing her hands ; " oh ! gin he had 
been advised by me ! But the dochter that left her 
faither's gray hairs to mourn her, deserves na' a better 
lot. It was e'en owre muckle guidness to gie me a 
warnin' o' it." 

The long dark hours of that terrible night dragged 
on — on — in all the torments, the unutterable torments 
of suspense. And if anything can aggravate these 
torments, it is enduring them amid darkness. There 
is something awfully indefinite at all times in the 
thick impenetrable gloom of night ; but when that 
gloom is armed with terrors, and big with dangers, 
to which the very impossibility of ascertaining their 
extent adds tenfold in the imagination, then it is 
that we truly feel the full amount of its awfulness. 
At last a faint dim glimmer of gray light began to 



Allan MacTavisK s Fishing. 255 

break over the tumbling waves. Again Margaret 
was at her cottage door. It was barely light enough 
to show her how mountainous were the billows that 
dashed and raved upon the shore, — how thick and 
heavy were the clouds that darkened the sky. The 
wind howled with unabated fury, and the rain drove 
against her by fits. She could just discern, by the 
faint daybreak, the white foam that marked the top 
of the waves, which were now ebbing from the bay ; 
while a thick rib of sand and sea-weed upon the 
grass not far from the door, marked how fearfully 
high they had flowed through the night. She cast 
an eager glance towards the cliffs. Surely by this 
time it would be practicable to scramble along their 
base, and to reach the path on the shore to the fisher- 
men's huts ? She felt as though it were impossible 
to remain another instant in that state of terrible 
uncertainty. But then, her infant ! She durst not 
carry it out by so hazardous a path, in the wet, cold, 
dark dawn ; and should she leave it behind, it might 
wake and miss her ! She turned distractedly into 
the room, and approached its bed. It was still in a 
sound and tranquil sleep ; and with a desperate effort 
of resolution, she determined to make the attempt. 
She approached the door, and fastened her plaid 
firmly around her, ere she stepped upon her scarce 
distinguishable way. 

At that moment, ere Margaret could cross the 
threshold, a strange sensation came across her. A 
cold air rushed past her, like that occasioned by the 
rapid approach and still more rapid passing of some 
indiscernible object. A dimness came over her sight ; 



256 



Weird Tales. 



it could not be said that she saw — but she felt as if 
something cold and wet had glided swiftly by her, 
with a scarce perceptible contact, into the house. A 
damp dew overspread her forehead ; her limbs 
trembled and bent beneath her, as she instinctively 
turned round, and looked into the room which she 
had quitted. The light was so faint, that within the 
house it scarce vanquished the darkness ; but a bright 
gleam flashing up from the fire, showed everything 
in the room distinctly for an instant's space ; and by 
that gleam, Margaret beheld the figure of her husband 
standing within the door, pale, as it seemed to her, 
and dim, and shadowy, with the water dripping from 
his clothes and hair. The fire- flash sunk as instan- 
taneously as it had shone, and all again was obscurity, 
as she dropped upon the floor in a swoon. 

When the unhappy wife again opened her eyes, 
and recovered her perceptions of what was passing 
around her, she found herself laid in her own bed. 
The bright glorious sunshine was beaming in at the 
cottage window, as though to mock her desolation. 
Several women, from the neighbouring fishing village, 
were in the room ; one of whom held in her arms, the 
infant of Margaret, whom she was endeavouring to 
soothe and quiet ; and at the moment she raised her 
head, the door opened, and upon the self-same spot 
where she had that morning beheld his likeness stand, 
she saw the lifeless corpse of her drowned husband, 
borne in the arms of some of his comrades, who had 
with difficulty rescued it from the devouring waves ; 
yet rescued it too late to save. 



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